Edexcel science fears unfounded

Edexcel's GCSE science will have 40 per cent internal assessment, not 70 per cent as you report ("Tied up in coursework", TES, January 13).

Internal assessment should not be confused with coursework which, in its existing form, is sometimes seen as an "extra" that gets in the way of the teaching. Our internal assessment will be very much part of our teaching and breaks down as follows.

Ten per cent is for the assessment of practical skills. Teachers who have first-hand knowledge of their students are the only ones who can assess these skills.

Thirty per cent will be based on short assignments. The assignments are set externally, there are 12 in total, and the teacher chooses three of these.

Because the assignments are integral to the teaching of the course, the other assignments can be used to formatively assess the students and prepare them for assignments chosen for summative assessment.

Teachers can choose the assignments that they feel suit students best. Each assignment is designed to be done in a normal lesson, and this should reduce rather than encourage dishonesty.

GCSE additional science will also have 40 per cent internal assessment, but centres may increase this to 70 per cent if they choose. The compulsory internal assessment will be similar to that for GCSE science.

The additional internal assessment will be devised by the centres themselves and marked to generic criteria: written communication, analysis, and applications and implications of science. This will allow teachers to devise types of assessment that best suit their students, and examples will be available for guidance. Again, it is envisaged that each assignment could be completed in a normal lesson.

All internal assessment, with the exception of the 10 per cent practical skills, will be subject to moderation.

We hope that teachers will see these types of internal assessment positively. It allows teachers to give students credit for the work they do in the natural course of lesssons, and offers teachers the chance to be flexible and innovative in how they assess their students.

Dr Alison J Thomson Chair of Internal Assessment for GCSE Science Edexcel Stewart Hse, 32 Russell Square London WC1

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