Articles by nick smith

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GCSE Changes

Today the exams regulator Ofqual has confirmed a list of changes it is making to GCSEs, in what it calls “the biggest shake-up of exams in England for a generation”. The headlines have been grabbed by a new grading system which will use numbers instead of letters and the announcement that coursework is being scrapped […]


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The Future of GCSEs

What initial conclusions about the future of GCSE exams can we draw from the mountain of documents which Michael Gove and the Department for Education released last week? And who will the winners and losers be if these proposals come to pass in their current form? There can be no doubt that such a new […]


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Too little content in GCSE specifications?

A GCSE test set by Edexcel, one of Britain’s biggest exam boards, has so little content that its chief examiner cannot believe it was approved by the Government’s official regulators, a Daily Telegraph investigation (9 Dec 2011) has found. Oxford Open Learning has been publishing courses directly linked to GCSE specifications for the last 25 […]


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Exam boards and their textbooks

The Daily Telegraph has reported today (8 Dec 2011) that two history examiners, Paul Evans and Paul Barnes, both of the WJEC, have been suspended following their investigation into alleged “corrupt practices” by exam boards. Michael Gove, the education secretary, said the revelations made by the  Telegraph “confirm that the current system is discredited”. He […]


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GCSE Reform Proposals

As you may well be aware, the government has published details of a number of proposed changes to the GCSE system and invited us, through OfQual,  to express our views. Although our views will inevitably be ignored once again, it is important to try to tell the truth about the consequences of the proposals. While […]


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Teaching History

Just as there will never be a consensus on how to teach English, so the teaching of History is destined to remain controversial. History textbooks tailored to fit A-level exam requirements have “stultified” teachers’ thinking and left children ill-equipped for the type of independent study needed at university, according to an Ofsted report on history […]


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Human Biology IGCSE

OOL introduces its brand new IGCSE Human Biology course to match the Edexcel IGCSE Human Biology specfication 4HB0. There is no coursework. The course leads to two written exams and provides excellent preparation for Biology A Level. IGCSEs are accepted at UK universities and colleges, and students can sit the exams at test centres world-wide.


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IGCSE English Literature

Oxford Open Learning introduces a brand new IGCSE English Literature course to match the Edexcel specification. There is no coursework. Candidates can sit the two exam papers at exam centres world-wide. The course provides excellent preparation for English A Level, and is recognised at universities and colleges in the UK.


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State Schools and IGCSE examinations

The Guardian newspaper report that very few state schools have expressed interested in offering IGCSEs is misleading. Only CIE were consulted about figures, but there is more than one IGCSE exam board. More importantly, state schools have not been given funding to introduce IGCSE exams, nor given any indication of whether, or when, funding might become available. IGCSE is harder than GCSE, but will its introduction into state schools mean that it will become easier? Should exam boards and universities control state exams rather than government?


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The value of distance learning to society

In today’s Guardian, Jonathan Woolf reviews the history of distance learning in the UK and the article has been given the somewhat misleading heading: ‘Distance learning: good on costs, not so good for social cohesion’ The sub-heading is also an inaccurate summary of the article that follows: ‘The danger of distance learning is that it […]


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