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Changes to qualifications

It is our job to make sure qualifications are of the right standard so that the public have confidence in the exams system.

Governments make education policy, which includes policy about qualifications and national assessments. We advise how the government’s policy can be best achieved and standards protected. It is our job to say if any changes could undermine standards, and to say when we think qualifications need to change. The exams system doesn’t stand still. The range of qualifications on offer in schools and elsewhere changes all the time. New specifications, subjects and qualifications appear, and sometimes disappear.

We wrote to the Secretary of State for Education in June 2011 to outline our plans for GCSE reform.

Our corporate plan 2013-16 sets out our plans to reform GCSEs and A levels.

We wrote to schools and colleges on 12th July to let them know about the changes to GCSEs, AS and A levels.

On 6th September we confirmed the timetable for the reform programmes. GCSEs in English and maths will be developed for first teaching in 2015, and other subjects will be introduced the following year. Most high volume A levels will be introduced to the same timetable, although maths, further maths and languages will be introduced from 2016.

Current year 11 students will sit their GCSEs in June 2014, year 10 in June 2015, year 9 in June 2016, year 8 in June 2017 and year 7 in June 2018.

 

Timeline of reforms

Timetable of current GCSE and A level reforms
Date Current GCSEs New GCSEs A levels
Academic year 2012/13
June 2013 Final summer exams of unitised (modular) GCSEs. Marks awarded for spelling, punctuation and grammar in English literature, history, geography and religious studies exams. Consultation on reformed GCSEs.  
July 2013   Consultation on reformed GCSEs.  
August 2013 Results for final, unitised (modular) GCSEs. First results for the new biology, chemistry, physics and additional science GCSEs. Consultation on reformed GCSEs.  
Academic year 2013/14
September 2013 First teaching of the new specifications for history and English literature.    
October 2013     Consultation on new A level requirements (ends midnight 17th January 2014).
November 2013 Final re-sits for unitised (modular) GCSEs in maths, English and English language. All students must ‘cash in’ results for certificates.

Publication of the design details of new GCSEs.

Technical consultation on the implementation of GCSE reforms.

Consultation on new A level requirements.
December 2013     Consultation on new A level requirements.
January 2014 No exams.

Results for final re-sits for unitised (modular) GCSEs in maths, English and English language.

  No exams.
Consultation on new A level requirements ends.
March 2014 No exams.    
June 2014 All exams & assessments for GCSEs in this series. New GCSE geography exams. All students must ‘cash in’ results for certificates.    
August 2014 First results for linear GCSEs (where the exam is at the end of the course) including the new geography GCSE.    
Academic year 2014/15
September 2014   Specifications for new GCSEs in English language, English literature and maths with schools from September 2014 onwards. Specifications for the new AS and A levels in the first group of subjects with schools from September 2014 onwards.
November 2014 Resit exams for linear maths, English and English language only. All students must ‘cash in’ results for certificates.    
January 2015 Results for November’s re-sits in linear maths, English and English language.    
June 2015 First new history and English literature exams.    
August 2015 First results from new history and English literature GCSEs.    
Academic year 2015/16
September 2015   First teaching of new GCSEs in English language, English literature and maths.

First teaching of the new, standalone AS qualification and linear A levels in the first group of subjects.

June 2016 Final exams for current GCSEs in English, English language, English literature, maths.  

Last exams for unitised (modular) AS and A levels in the first group of subjects.

First exams for AS as a linear, standalone qualification in the first group of subjects.

August 2016 Final results for the above GCSEs.  

Last results for unitised (modular) AS and A levels in the first group of subjects.

First results for linear, standalone AS in the first group of subjects.

Academic year 2016/17
September 2016   First teaching of other new GCSEs. Teaching of linear AS and A levels in a second group of subjects.
November 2016 Last chance to re-sit maths, English and English language exams.    
May/June 2017 Final exams for many current GCSEs including biology, chemistry, physics, science, additional science, additional applied science, history and geography.

First exams for new GCSEs in English language, English literature and maths.

 

First exams for new A levels in the first group of subjects.

First exams for standalone, linear AS qualification in the second group of subjects.

August 2017   First results for new GCSEs in English language, English literature and maths. 

First results for new A levels in the first group of subjects.

First results for standalone, linear AS levels in the second group of qualifications.

Last results for unitised (modular) AS and A levels in
the second group of subjects

Academic year 2017/18
November 2017   Opportunity to take new GCSEs in English language and maths (for students who were 16 or over on 31st August 2017).1  
May/June 2018   First exams of new GCSEs in other subjects including physics, chemistry, biology, combined science (double award), history and geography. First exams for linear A levels in the second group of subjects.
August 2018   First results of new GCSEs in other subjects including physics, chemistry, biology, combined science (double award), history and geography. First results for linear A levels in the second group of subjects.
November 2018   Opportunity to take new GCSEs in English language and maths (for students who were 16 or over on 31st August 2018).  

1 We are still considering whether November exams should be available in other subjects for students of this age.

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