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New GCSE and A-level content published

27/01/2015 Joanna
The government has published the final content of more rigorous and demanding GCSE and A-level qualifications.

GCSEs in music, computer science, art and design, dance and physical education (PE), and A-levels in dance, music and PE, have all been reformed to raise education standards.

Changes to the arts subjects have been made to allow pupils to develop their creativity and self-expression, and broaden their understanding of Britain's cultural heritage. They will also gain the underlying knowledge and technical skills necessary to compete in the arts.

Art and design will see a new emphasis on drawing, with students required to demonstrate an ability to draw for different purposes.

In music, there will be a greater focus on knowledge and critical engagement with a wide range of music. At GCSE level, youngsters are to be expected to write (as well as read) staff notation, understand chord symbols and analyse unfamiliar music.

Evaluating physical activity using data will play a greater role in PE, along with more emphasis on theory. Meanwhile, dance is to feature new theoretical content requiring critical appreciation and understanding of professional works at GCSE, and critical engagement and embodied knowledge at A-level.

Education secretary Nicky Morgan said: "We are sending a clear message that arts education can be every bit as rigorous as the rest of the school curriculum. 

"These subjects can lead to creative and rewarding careers in everything from engineering and design to our emerging digital industries."

Pupils taking the new GCSE in computer science will learn how to write code, design programs and understand the ethical and legal impacts of digital technology.

Due to be taught from 2016, the course will include up-to-date content on issues such as cyber security, providing young people with the knowledge and tangible skills they need to go on to further education and successful jobs.

Simon Peyton Jones, chair of Computing at School, said he was delighted that Ofqual has introduced computer science as GCSE subject with its own specification, adding that it provides "a clear progression pathway from GCSE, through A level, to university study in the subject".

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