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English and Maths are first to undergo grade revamp

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.

New GCSE grades 'to distinguish brightest students'

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."

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Numbers system to replace GCSE A*-G grades

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.

Traditional GCSE grades are to be scrapped and replaced with a numbered scale under the biggest reforms of the exams for decades. Credit: PA

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.

Government unveils shake-up of GCSE system

The existing GCSEs, which pupils have sat for nearly three decades, are to be swept aside, and a tougher and more rigorious exam will replace them, the Education Secretary announced today.

Pupils in England will attempt the new qualification from the summer of 2017. There will be less coursework and greater emphasis on final written tests.

Political Correspondent Libby Wiener reports:

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Gove: Higher level of demand will help students

Mr Gove said the higher level of demand in the new GCSEs would equip students to progress to higher education or a good apprenticeship.

Education Secretary Michael Gove makes a statement to MPs in the House of Commons, London on improving the structure and content of GCSEs. Credit: Press Association Images

The Education Secretary said the government could "raise the bar confidently, knowing we have the best generation of teachers ever in our schools to help students achieve more than ever before".

He said there was a widespread consensus that the government needed to improve the examination system to "enhance public confidence".

Exam boards will be given 'clearer idea of expectations'

Mr Gove revealed that awarding exam bodies will be given a clearer idea of what the government expects in each subject.

"Under the previous system, specifications were often too vague," he said.

"This caused suspicion and speculation that some exam boards were harder than others, undermining the credibility of the exam system as a whole.

"Including more detail in our requirements for subject content should ensure greater consistency and fairness across subjects and between exam boards."

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