Delays to GCSE and A-level exams accreditation could spell disaster


Delays to exam specifications for next year's GCSE and A-level courses could result in disastrous consequences similar to the chaos seen over this year's primary school examinations, reports the Independent.

Despite promises that all new exam specifications would be signed off a year in advance, Government figures disclose that one in five GCSEs and A-level specifications are still awaiting sign-off by the exams regulating body.

Updated figures from Ofqual show that a quarter of GCSE subjects are yet to have all their submitted specifications accredited and only 7 in 11 AS and A-level subjects are complete. The revelation comes as schools prepare for dramatic changes to GCSE and A-level curriculum and grading systems to begin this year.

Key language qualifications including French, German and Spanish are yet to be approved and science qualifications have only recently been addressed, teaching unions say, leaving schools very little time to prepare for the new curriculum before summer.

Deputy General Secretary for the National Union of Teachers (NUT), Kevin Courtney said: “The government is in danger of recreating in secondary schools the disastrous experience of this year’s primary assessment.

"A rushed process of implementation gives rise to problems which schools are left to deal with, while the Department For Education (DfE) minimises the difficulties they face.”

A DfE spokesman said: “It is not true to suggest schools cannot prepare for teaching next year – in fact, agreed specifications are available for all subjects, so there is no barrier to schools preparing for September."

“We have reformed GCSEs and A-levels so they now represent a new gold standard, and it is right that the highest standards are applied to developing and accrediting these new qualifications."

“Content for core subjects including GCSE science, modern foreign languages, history and geography were published as long ago as April 2014. The content for all subjects was published by February 2015 to help schools prepare for their introduction.”