Updates from WJEC England Advisory Group: GCSE, GCE and vocational qualifications
Reformed GCSE and GCE qualifications
- WJEC has developed 81 new GCSE, AS and A level qualifications under the Eduqas brand for teaching from 2015, 2016 and 2017. All of these qualifications have now been accredited by Ofqual
- This is the last year legacy GCSE maths and English will be available – WJEC is running training events to support teachers changing to the new specification
- GCSE (9-1) computer science
- GCSE (9-1) computer science is the only EBacc subject that has non-examination assessment (NEA). Ofqual has asked exam boards to introduce additional controls and processes to support the management of NEA in this subject
- To ensure a consistent approach is taken across exam boards, WJEC has worked with AQA, OCR and Pearson to design common controls and processes that will be implemented by all exam boards
- The first NEA tasks will be released on 1 September 2017. The deadline for submitting NEA marks will be 31 March 2018 and each exam board will conduct additional moderation checks before results are issued
- Every September, exam boards will identify centres of concern and conduct mandatory visits to these centres to inspect the delivery of NEA in GCSE (9-1) computer science.
- The number of EPQ entries nationally has grown significantly since 2009, with nearly 35,000 submitted in the summer 2016 season. Some reasons for this growth may be that increasingly, universities are including the EPQ in their UCAS offers, fewer students are now pursuing a fourth A level, the EPQ is now worth more than an AS and the EPQ allows the student to pursue a research topic of their choice; a freedom which is seldom to be found in traditional A level specifications.
- Vocational qualifications at level three
- Expanding the suite of level three qualifications remains a priority area of work for WJEC.
- From September 2016, its level three qualifications were rebranded as applied certificates and diplomas. WJEC applied suite of qualifications has been approved by DfE for inclusion in the 2019 performance tables in the applied general qualification category
- WJEC is awaiting recognition for business, health and social care, professional construction practice and tourism
- Vocational qualifications at Level 1/2
- From September 2016, the WJEC Level 1/2 vocational qualifications were rebranded as vocational awards. The following vocational awards are in the DfE's performance tables for 2019: constructing the built environment, creative and media, designing the built environment, engineering, event operations, hospitality and catering, planning and maintaining the built environment, retail business, sport (to be replaced in 2017 by health and fitness) and tourism
- Vocational certificates are also available in some subjects but currently, none of these contribute to DfE's performance tables because they do not meet the DfE's requirement for 40 per cent external assessment
- Other vocational qualifications
- WJEC continues to offer a small number of vocational qualifications that fall outside of the vocational award and certificates, and applied certificates and diplomas, including a suite of language units at entry to level two and a suite of entry-level qualifications known as entry pathways
- It is developing a new entry-level qualification in English for teaching from September 2017, which aligns more to new GCSE; maths and science entry level were available from 2016 and developed with reformed GCSE structures in mind.
- WJEC introduced some changes to the way applications were processed for the summer 2016 series in an effort to improve turnaround time in responding to centres' applications for a review of marking or moderation. WJEC still carries out a large percentage of hard copy (traditional) marking, and it is more challenging to respond as swiftly with the outcomes of a marking review as those subjects that are marked onscreen
- There was an overall reduction in the percentage of applications submitted for reviews of marking
- There was a 4.8 per cent decrease in the number of post-results service applications that resulted in a grade change for the summer 2016 series compared with the summer 2015 series. There was a reduction of 1.8 per cent qualification grade changes at AS/A level and a 5.6 per cent reduction in GCSE qualification grade changes.
- During 2016 calendar year, WJEC conducted 84 investigations into allegations of malpractice in England and Wales (this includes both centre and student malpractice)
- Officers investigate each allegation and if there is adequate evidence to support the allegation, the case is presented to the WJEC's malpractice panel
- WJEC has decided to offer examination resit opportunities for all GCSE legacy qualifications, provided that there is sufficient demand. Controlled assessment marks will be carried forwards
- The majority of GCSE final legacy examination resits will be scheduled for the January series
- Centres will be required to provide 'intention to enter' information for resit candidates by 20 September each year before the resit opportunity is available.
Educational resources and CPD
- WJEC is running a full programme of training events across England this academic year. Full details of all courses are available at http://www.eduqas.co.uk/training/
- Educational resources to support teachers and learners – digital resources have been developed/are in development by WJEC for GCSE and GCE subjects which are available through its website
- Online exam reviews are also available. These include item-level data for all candidates who sat the paper, example questions, mark schemes, candidate answers and marked responses.