'Lighter' syllabus on trial

6th October 2006 at 01:00
Coursework has been halved on a trial of a new Welsh second-language GCSE course in a bid to appease complaining teachers.

The WJEC, the Welsh exams board, came up with the new pilot syllabus in response to concerns that the current programme creates too much work for teachers and is "putting off pupils".

But only around 50 schools have opted to try out the new coursework-light syllabus after it was offered to them over the summer.

Sian Llewelyn Jones, the WJEC's new Welsh second-language subject officer, said she was surprised at the lack of take-up.

At present, second-language Welsh is the only subject where pupils are fully supervised when completing coursework. Under the new pilot, schools can opt to teach the "living in Wales" (Byw'r Gymraeg) or practical second-language Welsh course (Cymraeg ymarferol) as a full or short GCSE course.

Most schools have chosen to take Byw'r Gymraeg, less vocational in content with only 20 per cent coursework. Under the option, 50 per cent of pupils'

grades rest on the final reading and writing exam. That compares with 30 per cent in the current GCSE and new vocational option.

Mrs Jones said: "This is the course we are looking to roll out in 2008, and the new 'living in Wales' course does respond to concerns over coursework."

Ms Llewelyn Jones has vowed to make Welsh a "happening language" with some new quirky additions to the syllabus. Included in the new pilot version is a conversation between non-Welsh speakers Charlotte Church and her Wales rugby international boyfriend Gavin Henson.

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