Skip to main content

Michael Gove unveils more changes to GCSEs and A-levels

A-level modern language students will be expected to study foreign literature and culture in tougher new exams to be unveiled by Michael Gove today.

Maths A-level students will require an understanding of "deeper mathematical concepts", while pupils studying GCSE PE will have to know how "anatomy and physiology, psychology, and socio-cultural influences impact performance" in the latest reforms to the country's exam system. 

The education secretary is expected to publish new content today for public consultation in GCSE and A-level subjects including art, computing, languages and geography in a bid to raise standards.

The changes form part of Mr Gove’s wider exam reform programme, which will also see the current GCSE A* to G grading system replaced by a new 9 to 1 system.

Back in April, Mr Gove set out his plans to overhaul England's exam system, which led to warnings from heads and teachers that changes to exams as well as to the national curriculum were placing the system under too much pressure.

At GCSE, the government is due to publish new content for art and design, dance, music and PE, while at AS and A level it has revamped dance, music, PE, modern foreign languages, ancient languages, maths, further maths and geography.

Under the new A-levels, foreign language students will be expected to use language "spontaneously" in discussions, while geography students will be expected to do more fieldwork. 

Today’s announcement will also give teachers the first glance at the minimum requirements for GCSEs in computer science, which have been developed with the help of the British Computer Science, E-skills UK, ICT subject association Naace and the Royal Society of Engineers.

The new GCSE will ask more of students, requiring them to solve problems, write and refine programs and understand “key mathematical principles”.

Bill Mitchell, director of education at the British Computing Society, said: “Computing is a brand new subject for schools, which will teach children how the digital world they live in works and how to become the future creators of digital technologies.

"We now have a wealth of academically demanding GCSEs in computing that are essential for students to be able to progress into further education and a professional career.”

Changes to GCSE will also see more demanding expectations of students studying music when it comes to both composing and performing.

The government, meanwhile, hopes that changes to AS and A-levels will allay fears that current exams are not “preparing students properly for the rigours of degree level courses”.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Our top-to-bottom reform of GCSEs and A levels will mean young people are leaving school with the skills they need to secure a good job, an apprenticeship or a place at university.

"These rigorous new exams will equip our children with the best skills and education so they can fulfil their ambitions and succeed in a global workforce.

“By making these exams more stretching we will give pupils, parents, teachers, universities and employers greater confidence in the integrity and reliability of our qualifications system.


Related stories:

GCSE reform: What it will mean for your school - April 2014

Schools face five solid years of constant exam revolution - April 2014

Heads warn of 'enormous pressure' as even more GCSE and A-level changes are revealed - April 2014


Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you