This is the first in a summary series looking back on some of the key policy announcements in education in 2013, and begins by looking at curriculum and accountability.

It’s been a busy year and changes have been announced at all levels of education – see some of my previous posts for more detail (e.g. Secondary Accountability reforms andCurriculum and Accountability reforms).

Please note these lists do not by any means cover everything that happened in education in 2013, but can serve as a reference guide for those who want to remind themselves of the busy year that we’ve had!

Primary reforms (click here, here and here)

  • The bulk of the new curriculum to be delivered from September 2014. Key changes include a deeper focus on the explicit learning of grammar, a more comprehensive maths curriculum, chronological history, and a compulsive foreign language.
  • New grammar, punctuation and spelling test (SPAG) for 11 year olds; taken for the first time this year as part of KS2 SATs
  • Level descriptors to be abandoned and schools encouraged to use their own formative assessment reporting system for pupil attainment and progression (to be inspected by Ofsted)
  • Statutory tests will remain until 2016, when the new tests will be introduced. New tests to be more challenging and all pupils given same tests to give everyone same opportunity.
  • New tests to be reported on a scaled score of 100
  • Each pupil’s progress will be shown by comparing the achievement to that of pupils with similar prior attainment

Secondary reforms (click here and here)

  • Removal of lettered grades (A*-G), to be replaced with a numbered scale of 1-9.
  • Linear courses, with grades relying on end-of course exam and 100% externally marked. Remove tiered exams for English, but retain tiers for maths. Speaking and listening components will no longer count towards the final grades in GCSE English and English language.
  • Teaching for English and maths to start in 2015, with first exams in 2017. Other subjects to follow the year after.
  • Removal of the 5 A*-C measure in favour of the ‘Progress 8’ and ‘Attainment 8’ measure (average grade/progress across 8 subjects – five of them EBacc and the other three academic or vocational).
  • Changes to early entries - only a student’s first entry to a GCSE examination will count in their school’s performance tables.
  • Computing now included in Ebacc measure as a Science

A levels (click here and here)

  • Facilitating subjects - League tables will feature data on the proportion of “Russell Group ready” teenagers at each institution: AAB in ‘facilitating’ subjects.
  • AS level papers will not count towards a full A-level but will be stand-alone qualifications. There will also be a bigger role for universities in monitoring the content of the A-level.

Vocational qualifications (click here and here)

  • Technical baccalaureate (Techbacc) qualification was announced as an alternative to the A level study route for post-16 education. Like the Ebacc, it is a performance measure, not a separate qualification and will be introduced in 2014, with first performance table reports in 2017.
  • Two new vocational qualifications to count in league tables: Tech levels’ which are comparable to A-levels and lead to recognised occupation, and ‘Applied General qualifications’ which give a broader range of vocational study.

FE, Sixth forms and colleges (click here, here and here)

  • Reformed performance tables for colleges and school sixth-forms will provide new information on how they are performing across a range of indicators: attainment, destinations, completion, progress, combined attainment and completion, a pupil premium measure, and what proportion of students achieve the new TechBacc.
  • Young people without at least a C in GCSEs in English and maths by the end of secondary school must continue to study the subject in post-16 education until they get these qualifications. This will become a condition of funding for colleges from 2014.
  • New core maths qualification to encourage more students to study maths until age 18. It is aimed at those who achieve a C or above at GCSE maths but would otherwise drop the subject and not study it at A-level.

Stay posted for the second part of the series looking at some of the major funding announcements in 2013.

Categories: News and policy

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