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GCSE coursework on the chopping block

15/11/2012 Joanna
An urgent review is being conducted by the exam qualifications watchdog into GCSE coursework and whether it harms children's education more than it helps.

Ofqual says that coursework could be done away with entirely if it is found to be negatively affecting lessons, with major shake-ups expected at GCSE level following last summer's English exam marking controversy.

For teachers who have become accustomed to the modular nature of GCSEs - and what this means for their lesson plans - any move to phase out coursework, or potentially scrap GCSEs entirely in favour of the English Baccalaureate, will significantly affect the way they are required to approach lessons.

According to the regulator, concerns have been raised that too much weighting is placed on coursework in terms of marks, especially in relation to the time it takes to complete.

There have also been questions asked about how well coursework completed in the classroom under the supervision of teachers can separate the brightest students from the weakest, as well as the extent of the sacrifice in terms of teaching time that this approach entails.

Ofqual chief executive Glenys Stacey said that the review of "controlled assessments" is already being carried out. This follows on just weeks after the watchdog reported on its findings that some teachers had overmarked their students' coursework this year.

She told those attending the Independent Academies Association conference in London: "Last year, we ensured exam boards improved the guidance they provided about controlled assessment, but now we are reviewing controlled assessment more fundamentally and on a subject-by-subject basis.

"You tell us that the practical arrangements for it can be difficult and in some subjects, it eats unduly into teaching and learning time."

Ms Stacey also expressed Ofqual's concern about the way in which coursework in some subjects has been designed. Currently GCSE courses contain either between zero per cent and 25 per cent coursework or 60 per cent, a system that many believe to be too inflexible.

Posted by Harriet McGowanADNFCR-2164-ID-801488563-ADNFCR
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