25 August 2020 08:36
Image copyright Getty Creative Stock Pupils entering Year 12 who are taking a GCSE in English literature will not have to study any novels as part of their course. It is among changes proposed by the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA). Pupils taking GCSE, AS and A-level courses will have their grades decided by exams again in 2021. However, pupils taking GCSEs are to sit fewer exams and what they have to study on many courses will be cut. Exams were cancelled in 2020 and pupils received GCSE, AS and A-level grades calculated by their schools instead.
That came after controversy over the original method of awarding pupils their grades partly based on standardisation by CCEA. CCEA has published proposals to reduce what has to be taught in many GCSE subjects in the 2020/21 school year but has said public exams should take place again next summer. "It would mean all students, regardless of their GCSE subject choices, can benefit from a reduction in the number of examinations they are required to take in summer 2021," CCEA said. Poetry, drama and Shakespeare In some GCSEs, units that represent up to 40% of a course will be cut. In GCSE English literature, for example, a unit on the study of prose will be dropped.
Pupils would previously have chosen one novel to study from a range of seven, including Lord of the Flies, To Kill a Mockingbird, Animal Farm and Of Mice and Men. However, their GCSE will now consist only of the study of poetry, drama and Shakespeare instead. In history, a unit on international relations between 1945 and 2003 will be dropped. CCEA has published details of elements of courses to be cut in 28 GCSEs in all. However, GCSE courses in English language and maths - which are regarded as core qualifications - are among those that will not be changed. Image copyright PA Image caption The changes will only affect pupils due to sit summer exams in 2021 The proposed changes will only apply for pupils who are entering the second year of their GCSE course and due to sit exams in summer 2021. Pupils taking AS and A-level courses will also be assessed using exams but what they are expected to study in their subjects will not be affected by cuts. Pupils entering Year 14 and taking A-levels through CCEA will have their entire result based on exams in 2021. "We are not proposing further reductions in either AS or A2 content at this time," CCEA said. "The reason for this is that these young people have not, to date, missed teaching time in these courses. "We would like to provide the opportunity for them to engage with the full course content and to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to facilitate progression to higher education." Student wellbeing However, CCEA said that would be kept under review in case there was further disruption to schools due to coronavirus. CCEA said that they were proposing "practical and common sense changes that are a necessity in the current public health climate". They also said they wanted to "reduce the burden of assessment on students in summer 2021 and support student wellbeing". However, the exams board added it was preparing for other contingencies in case there was further disruption to schools. "There is further work being taken forward to consider contingency arrangements to deal with a range of potential public health scenarios, including local lockdowns," CCEA said. "Above all, we realise there will be a need to be flexible and that arrangements may need to evolve and change as the academic year continues." As a result, the exams period in summer 2021 may be shorter but would still end on 30 June. CCEA is consulting on its proposed changes and has asked for feedback by Monday, 7 September 2020. "We fully recognise the urgent need for clarity for both teachers and students, and to support this the consultation will be open for two weeks," CCEA said. Never miss a thing from Belfast and beyond - sign up for FREE updates direct to your email inbox Subscribe Thank you for subscribing See our privacy notice Invalid Email A public consultation has been launched on proposed changes to GCSE and A-Level exams next summer. CCEA has proposed a range of changes to the exams taking place in the summer term next year in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the loss of direct teaching time. These include plans to change the assessment process, reduce the required number of units for each subject at GCSE level and having more control over when certain items of the curriculum are taught. The examination board has said that the proposals have considered the current public health scenario and restrictions, along with the New School Day guidance provided by the Department of Education. For GCSE students the proposals suggest removing the number of units required by each subject, other than English and Maths, in order to remove the examination burden on students. Each proposal varies per subject, with some allowing for the removal of one examination in a subject and others seeing certain elements of exams alerted. For example, Biology students would not carry out their own practical experiments and would watch a teacher's demonstration instead. CCEA has also proposed having more control over when certain items of the curriculum are taught, on the basis that it would allow the examination board to be aware of what students had learnt in the event of there being disruption to schools. For A-level students, it is proposed that those starting an A2 course in September would not be required to sit an AS assessment and their grade would be based on A2 alone. There are currently no proposed changes to the content of A-level courses. The consultation will run until 5pm on Monday, September 7. To view the consultation, visit the CCEA website here.