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DfE Key Stage 4 Consultation

DfE KS4In the core academic subjects that make up the English Baccalaureate - English, mathematics, sciences, history, geography and languages – the Government intends to replace current GCSE with new qualifications, to be called “English Baccalaureate Certificates”.  The Government will be moving away from the competition between Awarding Organisations to sell their qualifications in these subjects.  Instead of schools choosing between a number of competing GCSEs in these subjects, a competition will be held to identify a single suite of qualifications, offered by a single Awarding Organisation in each subject, for a period of five years.

A public consultation on these reforms has been launched, which will run until 10th December.  This can be accessed at the DfE website.  It sets out the intention to increase rigour in the new qualifications, and the characteristics against which the Government proposes to assess the new qualifications.  The Government expects Awarding Organisations submitting qualifications to have a strong reputation for excellence and evidence that they have existing qualifications with a good track record of supporting progression to further study at A Level, vocational subjects or to Apprenticeships.  The Government will also look for high expectations of the performance students need to demonstrate, rigorous demands for assessment, and challenging requirements for content to ensure that students will be studying a world class syllabus.

The Department’s consultation covers:

  • The characteristics that it should look for in selecting new qualifications;
  • How best to support schools and post-16 institutions as they prepare to deliver the qualifications;
  • How best all our young people can be prepared to achieve the reformed qualifications; this includes, in particular, the arrangements for lower attaining pupils who are not ready to take the new examinations at the end of Key Stage 4,
  • The impact of the reforms on specific pupil groups, including those pupils with SEN and/or disabilities and those from disadvantaged backgrounds

The Secretary of State has also announced his plans to hold a separate and wide-ranging consultation on the secondary school accountability system, to start later in the year.


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