Maths to be split into two exams

Pupils are to get the chance to study two GCSEs in maths within five years under plans being drawn up by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority.

The TES understands that youngsters would be able to take two separate exams in the subject, as traditionally they have done for English.

The move, which is mentioned in QCA advice sent last week to ministers, comes as the Westminster government seeks to put more emphasis on the subject. Some Welsh schools take maths courses set by English exam boards and overseen by the QCA.

Maths associations have complained that maths GCSE involves more work than many other exams. And whereas pupils have the chance to obtain two GCSEs for work in English and science, for most pupils this has not been the case in maths.

The QCA hopes that the new double maths would be taken by hundreds of thousands of youngsters. It plans to pilot the new qualification from September for a 2010 roll-out.

Maths groups welcome the extra weight that Westminster is giving to their subject, with a new emphasis in league tables on pupils' achievements in English and maths from next year.

In Wales, maths has been part of the Assembly government's "core subject indicator" targets for several years, alongside EnglishWelsh and science.

But the groups have not been consulted on the QCA advice. And there is widespread concern that ministers are introducing several reforms of the subject in a hurry.

Current maths GCSEs are to be changed from September this year. Youngsters will be able to take the exam at two different levels, or tiers, rather than the current three.

A source said: "People are quite keen to think about the double award plan.

It's just that everything is going on in such a tearing hurry, with piloting having to start by September.

"Trying to persuade schools, which are already having to cope with the new two-tier GCSE from this September, to pilot the double award as well is going to be very difficult."

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