New GCSE science 2016

Most of my students use Edexcel and so at present that's the new specification I have looked at most. I will get around to them all within a few days so at present take what I say to be mainly about Edexcel.

From September 2016, there are 4 GCSE qualifications in science that students can take: 

GCSE (9-1) BiologyGCSE (9–1) ChemistryGCSE (9-1) Physics

or GCSE (9-1) Combined Science (Double Award)

Ofqual say that it is expected that all students will either study the three separate sciences or will take Combined Science Double award.

Note that there will no longer be a single GCSE Science qualification (in practice this means Science and Additional Science are combined and there is no Further Additional Science).

As with all GCSEs now there a new 9–1 grading system, replacing A*–G:

- Foundation tier will cover grades 1–5 - Higher tier will cover grades 4-9.

Students Will receive two grades, usually the same for their Combined Science result, e.g. 5,5 or 8,8. Ofqual say that sometimes but rarely two different numbers will be awarded where the result is close between two grades. I take this to mean that 5,6 or 8,7 is possible but 3,6 would not be.

There are no controlled assessments in the new qualifications.  Ofqual will announce how practical skills will be assessed soon. 16 compulsory practical activities are included with no external examination but school will provide an as yet to be confirmed school statement and the content of these experiments may form questions in the written exams.

Questions assessing students’ use of mathematical skills will make up 15% of the assessments (but 20% of the marks?). There will also be some recall of equations required in physics.

Specifications will include new content, in line with subject criteria outlined by Ofqual and some "old content" is no longer included.

There will be six 1 hour 10 minute written exams, taken at the end of Year 11 but an optional Year 10 externally externally marked exam is being offered "for free" by Edexcel.