Scrapping of geography GCSE fieldwork 'ham-fisted'

The head of the Geographical Association says Ofqual's proposal to scrap fieldwork from 2021 GCSE geography is 'ham-fisted policy making'.

Claudia Civinini

field trip

Ofqual’s proposal to scrap fieldwork requirement from the 2021 GCSE Geography exam has been fiercely criticised by subject association leader Alan Kinder in a series of tweets.

Mr Kinder, head of the Geographical Association, told Tes: “Their [Ofqual's] decision smacks of a disregard for the integrity of the subject and a disregard for the needs of pupils, both now and for their further study. It reflects the lack of subject expertise available internally at Ofqual.”

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The Ofqual consultation on 2021 assessment and exams, launched this morning, includes a proposal to drop assessment of content related to fieldwork next year.

The consultation document states: “We believe that, in the circumstances, this is acceptable and the fairest way to mitigate the impact of coronavirus (Covid-19) for students taking these subjects in summer 2021 and that the proposed changes will not have an undue impact on students’ successful progression to A level.

However, Mr Kinder explained that instead of completely scrapping fieldwork, the current requirements for students to study two different environments beyond the school gates could have been temporarily relaxed.

This would have allowed schools to still be able to organise fieldwork to study one environment, potentially within the school building or grounds – for example, the weather, the landscape, a small ecosystem, or the global connections of the school, Mr Kinder suggested.

He added: “Such a ‘study’ could easily have been conducted over the course of one or two lessons, without disrupting other classes or requiring teachers to organise field trips.

"It would not, however, have prevented more ambitious field trips from taking place, which is in effect what will now happen – except for privileged schools, I suspect.”

An Ofqual spokesperson told Tes: "Our consultation on a range of proposals for GCSEs, AS and A level assessment in 2021 will remain open until 16 July, and we will announce our final decisions in August, before the start of the new academic year.

"We welcome responses from all stakeholders, including trade unions and subject associations, and will consider their views as we make our final decisions." 

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Claudia Civinini

Claudia Civinini

Find me on Twitter @claudiacivinini

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