GCSE exams could be set for a major overhaul after examinations watchdog Ofqual announced that it is carrying out a review of the system.
The move could potentially see the number of grades available to students cut, with the current A* to G structure being assessed for its suitability.
In line with new government policy, secondary school teachers will no longer see their pupils sit modular exams following the reforms; with end-of-course exams set to be rolled out in their place.
Publishing its Corporate Plan for 2012 to 2015, Ofqual revealed that certain subjects will be strengthened in line with the new National Curriculum currently being devised by the Department for Education.
Spelling, punctuation and grammar are also set to be included in marking schemes for English literature, geography, history and religious studies as of September 2012.
These concrete developments come amid a wider review of the GCSE framework, with the regulator revealing that in the next two years it will reassess the GCSE 'brand' as well as the subjects that are included in the qualifications.
Ofqual has also revealed it is carrying out a full review of the usefulness of controlled assessment, though there is no suggestion that exams themselves are to be scrapped.
Chief regulator at the watchdog Glenys Stacey believes that the plans to improve the system will improve confidence in the examination system, while also better preparing young people for the future.
"We have been listening to those in schools, colleges, higher education, business and government, and our plan reflects what they have been telling us, and the findings from our own growing research and evidence base," she said.
"We also know that exams and assessments are part of the wider education system and must support the best teaching and learning. We will play our part in making sure that is the case."
Posted by Tim Colman