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Posted: 04.02.13

A Statement On Gcse And A Level Developments In England And Wales

As parents will no doubt be aware, both the Westminster and Welsh Governments have been conducting reviews of qualifications offered at 14-16 (currently GCSEs) and 16-18 (currently A levels). Although the final outcomes of these discussions have not yet been reached, we have been keeping a close eye on developments and on the possible implications for pupils at Christ College, and it seems right to bring families up to date on developments so far.

The headline is that A levels will remain the key qualification for all school leavers. In England the proposal is to move to linear A levels, examined at the end of two years, while in Wales the government is looking more favourably on retaining the modular nature of the current system, but both countries will continue with A levels as the key 16-18 qualification. At Christ College we will, as we always have done, select a range of A level courses to suit the range of interests, ambitions and skills of our pupils, while keeping a close eye on the currency given by universities to these qualifications.

The Westminster government is proposing more significant changes at 14-16. It proposes to introduce the ‘EBacc’ comprising core subjects in English, Maths, Science, Humanities and Languages, leaving other subjects outside theEBacc as stand-alone GCSEs. This is highly controversial and the proposals may yet undergo change,. The Welsh Government intends to stay with GCSEs for all subjects but there is a possibility that these will only be offered by Welsh board WJEC, as it may not be economic for other exam boards to offer EBacc qualifications as well as GCSEs.

At Christ College we have a very clear policy; we aim to provide maximum flexibility in the curriculum and qualification offering we make at GCSE, and then to offer tailored personal advice for each pupil and their family; the aspiring Oxbridge candidate may have very different needs in terms of a GCSE programme from the highly creative would-be architect, for example, and we aim to put together programmes of study for all sorts of pupils that give them the best chances both of enjoying their courses and succeeding in them.

For our current 2nd and 3rd form pupils, we can confirm that they will undertake GCSE courses, as their predecessors have done. For those currently in the 1st form or joining the school next year at 11, we will keep the 14-16 curriculum under review as the qualifications offered in England and Wales become clearer, and will keep parents informed of our decision-making as we go on.

Emma Taylor
Head of Christ College

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