new KS4Today the new GCSE subject content for teaching from 2015 was published (here). On the whole,  in terms of content, it is a lot better than the previous programme of study (here) – what will now happen is that the exam boards will put together specifications, and that’s when the real meat gets put on the bones. What I will say is that these changes are not a major surprise – I was at the Edexcel conference at Warwick  in the Summer and looking through the slides now, lots them were in Grahams ‘presentation about possible changes (you can get a copy from the emporium in a folder called Warwick conference), which if nothing else proves that you need to make the time to attend these kind of events, and not just rely on in-school CPD … get out there, talk to other teachers/professionals!!

We don’t enter many students into the foundation tier and that is where I see the biggest impact in terms of content. I am more concerned with (a) having the time to teach the  extra Higher tier content and (b) thinking what a pain in the ‘arris changing the SOW will be!

However, I’m waffling … most of you will be interested in the “headline” changes:

  1. Teaching starts from Sept 2015 – first examined 2017
  2. Outcomes will be graded 1 to 9 with 9 being highest achievable. There is no comparison as of yet (a consultation is taking place) as to what would equate to a C … the DFE are trying to minimise comparisons of this type … BUT the first question an employer will ask when shown a certificate with a “3 in maths” … is that good?
  3. Two tiers remain … Ofqual call them Higher and Foundation, when they say that Foundation will be aimed at grades 1-5 and Higher will be grades 4-9.
  4. I genuinely see no real point in comparing what is in and what is out, in too much detail as it really is exam board specific and there are so many quirks between boards that we’ll be here for ever comparing the intricacies of each spec, and what we have is a massive change from the traditional foundation and higher. What you need to know are that there are:
    • new topics introduced for just the higher tier such as quadratic sequences, and some new topics introduced just for the foundation tier
    • new topics introduced for both tiers (for example time series have made a comeback! oh I’ve missed you!)

BUT the biggest change is that there are lots of topics that have moved from being Higher tier topics to now being included for all students, which means that they will be included in the Foundation tier such as Trigonometry, simultaneous equations, probability tree diagrams.  This really isn’t an issue for us and actually makes the whole JustMaths Top 40 (and Online) more important as more students will need supporting on “our type of topics” … what we will be doing though, is reviewing what topics are included on the Top40 hitlist … to make that element of what we’re doing with JustMaths, an ideal revision tool (its gives the students a real targeted list of things to focus on).

We don’t use the Foundation tier  (apart from about 12-15 students a year MAX), I have blogged about this before and have a view that we shouldn’t be limiting the ambitions, so unlike many teachers I’m not overly worried about teaching our “foundation” students trigonometry, for example, as we effectively already teach them many of these topics now by teaching them the Higher tier as it stands (and trust me, we have a challenging cohort!). Our issue will be getting the time to teach the additional higher topics: there was talk (and I’ll believe it when I see the ad!) of an additional teacher from Sept (in fact plans are underway to refurbish one of the rooms, in readiness) and possibly an extra hour per week per class  … should we be looking at another teacher the following year (we have no more rooms!!!)?? … hmmmm .. maybe I need to take some time to digest these changes and come back to this post….

In the meantime if you are interested in seeing a list of the changes .. not making any guarantees that they are relevant to your specific exam board … check out  this post by James Gurung.