Details of new GCSEs in English and Maths as well as a new numbered grading system were revealed today under radical reforms.Read the full story ›
Teenagers studying English Literature will have to study at least 15 poems at GCSE, including works by authors such as Wordsworth, Byron and Keats, under a major shake-up of the exams.
Details of new GCSEs in English and Maths - due to be taught in schools from September 2015 - were unveiled by the Department of Education today.
In future, pupils will be required to learn poems by no fewer than five poets - and to study 300 lines of poetry at a minimum.
Youngsters will also be told they must "broaden their knowledge of literature" and read widely to prepare for unseen texts in exam papers.
The new Maths GCSE will also be "bigger in content", and more challenging and will include new sections on ratio, proportion and rate of change.
The Department for Education hailed the new GCSEs as more "challenging, ambitious and rigorous".
One student told ITV News that a greater focus on exams under the new GCSE system would be better than having regular assessments.
Kevin Judd, 15, said: "You haven't got loads of work to do throughout the year, you just revise once and get the exam out the way."
He also thought the new number grading system for GCSEs would be better for students in the long run, because scoring 6 or 7 out of 9 could seem like more of an achievement than receiving a C or a D grade under the present regime.
Changes to the GCSE exam system could prove "detrimental" to children who struggle to perform under pressure, according to one headteacher.
Speaking to ITV News, Andrew Keeley said he believes one off exams are poor for students, and that a modular system combined with coursework enables students with different abilities to succeed.
The Headteacher of St Chad's school said the plan to change the grading system to numbers could cause a significant period of confusion, which may be damaging to students and employers.
The new exam system may cause confusion for future employers, according to one student.
Georgie Urmson, who is preparing to take her GCSEs, said employers may favour students who take exams under the new system because of the perception that exams are more challenging.
The 16-year-old also suggested that taking one exam at the end of the year is unfair on students who find exams difficult but are intelligent in other aspects of learning.
The new GCSE system will free students from constant assessment and help them understanding subjects better, said the head of exam regulator Ofqual.
Glenys Stacey, Ofqual's chief regulator, told the BBC that focusing more on final exams means time can be "freed up so that students can actually learn and become competent in their subjects".
She added: "at the momnet too many students of whatever ability are sitting too many assessments".
The new numbers-based system for grading GCSEs will help less able students while making it easier to spot the most talented, said the head of the qualifications regulator Ofqual.
Glenys Stacey, Ofqual's chief regulator, said the move from eight gradings to nine means assessors "get a little bit more selection, which is particularly helpful at the top of the scale".
She told the BBC's Today programme that focusing more on final exams and less on modules would benefit the less able student, because "he's not going to be weighed down by assessment after assessment."
Ofqual said English literature, English language and maths will be the first subjects to undergo GCSE grade changes - these three subjects account for around a third of GCSEs awarded in England each year.
- The first three subjects to be revamped - English literature, English language and maths - are due to be taught in secondary schools in England from 2015, with the first exams taken in the summer of 2017.
- A year later, in 2016, new GCSEs in science, history, geography and some modern foreign languages, as well as other subjects often taught in schools like RE and art, will be introduced to schools.
- Ofqual will consult on the range of subjects that will carry the GCSE title in the future, a move which is likely to fuel speculation that some subjects may not be part of the brand.
The overhaul of the GCSE grading system will make it easier to spot the brightest students, Ofqual suggested.
Currently, in some subjects such as maths and science, high numbers of pupils achieve A* and A grades which makes it difficult to pick out the top students.
Chief regulator Glenys Stacey said that in these cases "you then begin to question whether the qualification is doing its job in differentiating sufficiently your most able students."
Traditional GCSE grades of A*-G are to be scrapped and replaced with a numbered scale under the biggest reforms of the exams for decades.
An additional grade will be added into the current eigh-grade system, with pupils to be graded from one to nine - with nine the highest mark available, England's exams regulator Ofqual said.