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Many GCSE subjects to be discontinued

04/06/2014 Joanna
Changes to the curriculum mean many GCSEs, A-levels and AS levels are to be scrapped, exams regulator Ofqual has announced.

Many courses currently being taught in schools will either be discontinued or merged with other subjects from 2016. Ofqual says it is because it wants "qualifications in different subjects to be similar in their level of demand and assessment structure at each level".

Home economics, which is taken by over 32,000 pupils a year, will no longer be offered as it is too similar to the new GCSE in design and technology: food technology. Catering will also be discontinued for the same reason.

A number of other courses, such as ancient history, law and media studies are to have their content reformed to make them more demanding. These revised subjects are likely to be taught from 2017.

The performing arts GCSE, which was awarded to 4,365 pupils in 2012, is seen as overlapping with new exams in dance and drama.

Expressive arts, electronics, manufacturing, engineering and humanities are among the other subjects affected by the reforms.

The move follows plans by education secretary Michael Gove to introduce more rigour into the curriculum.

Leader of the Association of School and College Leaders Brian Lightman said the reforms were less far-reaching than had been rumoured.

"Not only are the vast majority of courses being retained, rumours like these destabilise efforts to promote confidence in England's qualifications system," he said.

Mr Lightman also called for an end to the distinction between so-called 'soft' and more 'rigorous' qualifications.

Overhauls have already been made to many of the more traditional academic subjects, such as English, maths, science and history.

Chief regulator at Ofqual Glenys Stacey said it is important to review subject content as qualifications change, while those that do not meet the principles put forward by the regulator should be discontinued. 

She added that exam boards will be able to choose whether to redevelop some subjects after considering factors such as demand and merit. 

Posted by Tim Colman

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