How Have GCSEs Changed Over The Past Few Years?

How Have GCSEs Changed Over The Past Few Years?

What's new?

In an effort to raise the standard of education in England, the government has revised the 30-year-old GCSE system. This new system is the result of a long process of reform that began in 2011 with the national curriculum review in England, involving extensive consultation with schools, further education, higher education, and employers on the principles of reform and subject content.

The new system has proven to be more demanding, but the idea behind this is to enable young people to be fully equipped with all of the necessary knowledge to compete in the increasingly competitive global job market. According to Michael Gove, former secretary of state for education, making GCSEs more demanding and more fulfilling will give young people the broad, deep and balanced education which will equip them to win in the global race.

These changes have been taking place since August 2017 and by 2020 all new GCSEs will be graded using the new system. The main changes to be aware of in this new system are the new exam and assessment procedures, the new grading system, the exam scopes, and the effects this has on job and university applications. 

What are the new exam and assessment procedures?
Under the new system, pupils will sit for their exams at the end of the two-year period. This is in contrast to how pupils used to take several exams spread out during the course of their GCSE education, which covered various sections of the curriculum.

This new examination system will, of course, affect the content that pupils need to study for their GCSE exams. For example, the new English Literature and History GCSEs require pupils to study the entire curriculum, whereas the previous exam only required pupils to cover a narrower range of content.

The content of each subject will also be more challenging, with more substantial texts in English literature and a number of new topics in maths. The exams will also look different and will have fewer ‘bite-sized’ questions and more essay-style questions.

Coursework assessments and other controlled assessments will also be used less in most subjects, except for practical subjects such as art, drama and dance. In addition, every pupil will also be required to do at least two science GCSEs with single science options having been dropped a while ago.

What does the new grading system look like?
The most noticeable change with the new GCSEs is the grading system. Previously GCSEs were graded with letters ranging from A* – G. However, the new grading system is arranged in a number system ranging 9 -1.

The new grading system will look as follows:

  • 9 is higher than the current A*
  • 8 is between and A* and A
  • 7 is are equal to an A
  • 6 is equivalent to a high B  
  • 5 is between a B and C (strong pass)
  • 4 is equal to a grade C (standard pass)
  • 3 is in between a D and E
  • 2 is between an E and F
  • 1 is a G
  • U refers to an ungraded paper

As you can see, the new grading system has more range than the old system which can narrow how young people are assessed. This also means that far fewer pupils will end up achieving the very top grade available, and many who would have been A* students under the old system could wrongly regard a 7 or 8 as a failure.

How will GCSE resits work?
For pupils that need to resit their GCSEs, they will be able to resit only maths and English in November, with no resits available for any other subjects. Grade 4 will remain the level that students must achieve without needing to resit English and Maths. 

How will this affect university and job applications?
The new system will change the way universities and employers will assess their candidates. This will also rely on further education routes such as A-levels and the new technical qualification called T-levels that will be implemented soon.

Overall the new system will be more challenging for young people, but not impossible as future cohorts will adjust to the new changes. The important thing to focus on is how these changes will set up young people in the global market so that they are able to compete with young people from countries such as Hong Kong and Singapore where the education system is extremely challenging. This will allow young people in the UK to access more rewarding career prospects around the world.

GT Scholars is a not-for-profit social enterprise and registered charity. We run after-school and weekend programmes that help young people achieve their academic and career aspirations. Our programmes include tutoring, mentoring and enrichment sessions for young people aged 11-18. Contact us if you would like to know more about any of our programmes and courses.

In the Know – Ideas for Half-term fun!

In the Know – Ideas for Half-term fun!

In The Know What's new?

There will be no need to spend the half-term holiday stuck at home with this week’s exciting events! These activities will get your child inspired and help them understand how they can develop their interests to become whoever they want to be. Read on for more!

Touch the Sky!
On Tuesday 28th May your child can engage in an immersive out-of-this-world experience, literally! They will learn about space and be able to experience the Galaxy up close as the stars and planets are brought right to them through this engaging 360° show. This planetarium show is tailored towards young people taking separate science and astrophysics GCSEs, but there will be a number of shows throughout the day for different age groups. Tickets are £3.99 – find out more and book your ticket here.

Coding Ninja-Style!
On Saturday 25th May, CoderDojo is back with another great event for teen coders. If your child wants to learn the skills necessary to become a software engineer, games developer or data scientist, then be sure not to miss out on this coding workshop! This free session for 14-17 year olds will include fun activities such as building a computer game and creating your own web application! Find out more here.

Life Rewired!
If your teenager is a budding artist then don’t let them miss out on this exciting interactive event. On Sunday 26th May, the Barbican Centre will be hosting an alternative art experience that will truly bring out the creative in your child. The event will include workshops and film screenings that will explore what it means to be human in a world where technology is changing everything! This free event is ideal for 15-18 year olds – find out more here.

GT Scholars is a not-for-profit social enterprise and registered charity. We run after-school and weekend programmes that help young people achieve their academic and career aspirations. Our programmes include tutoring, mentoring and enrichment sessions for young people aged 11-18. Contact us if you would like to know more about any of our programmes and courses.

In the Know – Exciting STEM opportunities!

In the Know – Exciting STEM opportunities!

In The Know Parents What's new?

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics offer fascinating learning experiences and rewarding career opportunities. In fact, STEM jobs are expected to grow at double the rate of other occupations creating 142,000 jobs between now and 2023, according to a report published by the Social Market Foundation and EDF. Here are three exciting opportunities for young people interested in learning more about STEM.

Routes into STEM
These innovative 3-day non-residential courses are focused on helping young people in Years 9 and 10 know more about the rewarding and challenging careers Maths and Science subjects can lead to. You will also get to engage with a college, a university and a company to compare routes into STEM careers and visualise your dream career and how to make it happen. Applications are currently open and there are bursaries available. Find out more here.

She Does Biomaths Competition
To celebrate the Year of Mathematical Biology, the University of Cambridge Newnham College and Lucy Cavendish College are inviting female GCSE students and to explore some of the intriguing connections between mathematics and the biological sciences. The competition is open to girls studying at a standard age UK state school who are starting Year 11 or Year 12 in September 2018, and there are two projects that they can choose from. Applications are open now and you can find out more here.

Inspire Courses
The Engineering Development Trust offers courses for young people in Year 11 who have a passion for STEM to be inspired at a leading UK university. During the course, you will be introduced to engineering or science through project work and workshops to give you a flavour of what to expect at university, and you will get to meet engineers, scientists, researchers and professionals. There are non-residential and residential options available, with bursaries also available. Applications are still open and you can find out more here.

GT Scholars offers after-school programmes that focus on social mobility, growth mindset and helping young people to achieve their aspirations. Our programmes include tutoring, mentoring and enrichment sessions for young people aged 11-16. If you would like to know more, please contact us here.

In the Know – Get ready for the working world!

In the Know – Get ready for the working world!

In The Know Parents What's new?

It was International Workers Day on Tuesday, so this week we want to tell you about a few work experience opportunities that your child may be interested in. Nothing prepares your child better for the world of work than a few days of work experience, and we hope the following programmes will provide this valuable insight.

GSK School Work Experience
GlaxoSmithKline is a science-led global healthcare company that researches and develops a broad range of innovative products. They offer work experience programmes for GCSE and A-Level (or equivalent) students at fixed times during the year. During the programme, you will get a real insight into GSK, the site, their various functions and the people who make up their business and you’ll learn about the importance of the work they do. Applications for their GCSE July programme closes on the 16th of May 2018. Find out more here.

PRIME Work Experience
PRIME is an alliance of more than 60 law firms across the UK, committed to improving access to the legal profession through work experience. Each law firm runs a work experience programme that is committed to providing at least 30-35 hours of contact time to young people from Years 9 to 13 who are interested in the legal career field. They also aim to improve access to young people at state schools and on free school meals or the first person in their family to go to university. Find out more here.

Croda Work Experience
Croda is a chemicals company that creates, makes and sells speciality chemicals that deliver real benefits to a range of diverse products including health and beauty, engine lubricants, plastics and many more. They are a global organisation with over 4000 employees, who work across 18 manufacturing sites and in offices in over 30 countries. They are able to offer a limited number of work experience placements to school/college students in the UK. Find out more here.

The GT Scholars Programme is an after-school programme that focuses on social mobility, growth mindset and helping young people to achieve their aspirations. The programme includes tutoring, mentoring and enrichment sessions for young people aged 11-16. If you would like to know more, please contact us here.

In the Know – Cultural activities for young people!

In the Know – Cultural activities for young people!

In The Know Parents What's new?

It is important for young people to be exposed to cultural activities and subject areas like art, history, poetry and music. It opens their minds to new experiences, deepens their character, and it also allows them to balance their interests so that their time is not only absorbed by school work or sports. Here are activities in three different cultural fields for young people to take part in.

Historical Fiction Competition 2018
The Historical Association’s historical fiction competition is a writing competition for students in year 7 to 9. What sets this writing competition apart is that the story needs to explore history by being set in the past, so entrants will need to use their historical knowledge to create the plot, context and characters. There are several categories and winning students will each receive a cash prize among other prizes. Entries are free and need to be submitted by the 31st of May 2018. Find out more here.

Create! Fashion Blogs Workshop
This full-day workshop hosted by the Victoria & Alfred Museum is tailored for 13 to 15-year-olds who want to learn how to start a fashion blog, create content to share online, and explore the best tools and resources for bloggers. The workshop is run by Navaz Batliwalla, a London-based fashion editor and creator of fashion blog Disneyrollergirl. Tickets cost £20 and the workshop is taking place on Saturday the 5th of May 2018 from 11am to 4pm. Find out more here.

The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award
The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award is an opportunity for any young poet aged 11-17 to accelerate their writing career. With entries from over 6,000 young people last year across the UK and worldwide, it is the largest competition of its kind and its importance is widely attested. Each year 100 winners are selected by a team of high profile judges. Winners receive a range of fantastic prizes including membership of The Poetry Society and access to a week-long residential poetry course. Entrance is now open until the 31st of July 2018. It is free and you can enter as many times as you want. Find out more here.

The GT Scholars Programme is an after-school programme that focuses on social mobility, growth mindset and helping young people to achieve their aspirations. The programme includes tutoring, mentoring and enrichment sessions for young people aged 11-16. If you would like to know more, please contact us here.

In the Know – Apprenticeships to accelerate your career!

In the Know – Apprenticeships to accelerate your career!

In The Know Parents What's new?

It’s the beginning of the final term of the year, but we know that most young people are already thinking about what to do after school. One option is to join an apprenticeship. An apprenticeship gives young people hands-on experience, a salary and the opportunity to get a degree in a relevant field. Here are three great apprenticeships for young people finishing their GCSEs or A-Levels this year.

IT Degree Apprenticeship
If your child is looking for an alternative, accelerated path into the IT industry, they should consider this 4 ½ year study and work programme from Capgemini. It includes all the opportunities you need to prepare for a successful career in the IT industry, acquiring technical skills in software engineering as well as broader business-related personal development, and you will receive a BSc (Honours) degree in Digital & Technology Solutions. The closing date for applications is the 8th of June 2018 for the intake in September. Find out more here.

PR & Communications Apprenticeship
This programme from the Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency provides an exciting apprentice opportunity for someone looking to develop a career and gain a qualification in communications. This role involves supporting the full range of PR activities, from project management and social media to writing news and digital content. GCSE students may also apply and the closing date is the 23rd of April 2018 for the intake in June. Find out more here.

Business Analyst Apprenticeship
Legal & General Investment Management Ltd is looking for someone with a desire to learn and contribute to become an apprentice Information Systems Business Analyst. You will receive full training, support and development throughout the 2-year program and gain formal qualifications alongside additional training in both the technology and the investment management domains. The closing date for applications is the 27th of May 2018 for the intake in September. Find out more here.

The GT Scholars Programme is an after-school programme that focuses on social mobility, growth mindset and helping young people to achieve their aspirations. The programme includes tutoring, mentoring and enrichment sessions for young people aged 11-16. If you would like to know more, please contact us here.