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Ofqual to toughen up curriculum for 4 GCSE subjects

24/02/2012 Joanna
The examinations watchdog Ofqual has announced plans to toughen up GCSE courses in four subjects amid fears that they are too easy for pupils to pass.

GCSEs in English literature, mathematics, history and geography will all be revised to make them stronger, with the first changes set to come into effect from September.

Debates about exams getting easier and more pupils achieving the top grades have been going on for years, with some arguing that the examinations system is devalued because of it.

Education secretary Michael Gove has also voiced concerns that GCSE students can pass their exams without having a thorough-enough grasp on the subject, the BBC reported.

Revealing the plans to strengthen the subjects today (February 24th), Ofqual chief executive Glenys Stacey said that the subjects that have been chosen will help ensure students study the whole curriculum.

"We want our young people to have the best possible educational experience, with qualifications that prepare them for the future," she said.

"The exam boards have welcomed this steer from the regulator and are to look again at these qualifications and how the rules are interpreted to make sure that young people taking them have to study an appropriate range and depth of the subject."

This latest development comes after a recent undercover investigation by the Daily Telegraph newspaper found examiners tipping off teachers with information that would help their students perform better in exams.

Changes to geography will be the first to be implemented, coming into effect from September before history and English GCSE syllabuses are strengthened ahead of the 2013 academic year. Mathematics papers will be improved beginning November 2012.

A Department for Education spokesman told the BBC that it was essential to restore faith in the exams system, raising the standard for all pupils.

The government was pleased that Ofqual was taking measures to ensure GCSEs stay challenging, the spokesman added.

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