June 2015
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More YO! Sushi history GCSE course from WJEC for 2016 ?

I have been asked to conclude my round-up of new GCSE offerings from 2016 by evaluating the Welsh exam board’s draft specification. Given that we will know the fate of each of them, fairly soon, I will not go into detail other than to point out the obvious issues. The chief of these seems to be lack of coherence. If we take the four options from the British history depth menu, it is hard to see how they equate in any way. The medieval option is 1337-1381, then there is the early Modern Elizabethan Age followed by Britain 1890-1918 and 1951-79.
When it comes to non-British depth studies the choice is between the Crusades, voyages of discovery, Germany 1919-39 and USA 1910-1929, the latter being clearly geared at the existing WJEC market. Students have to study different eras.
With the so-called breadth studies, centres have 4 options, all of them 20C topics: USA 1929-2000; Germany (again!-1919-91); USSR 1924-91 and UK 191-1990. Naturally you can’t study modern USA, Germany of UK twice.
The fourth and final component is thematic and is a catch-all of the existing SHP lines of development with the usual suspects: Crime and Punishment; Health and medicine, Warfare; and leisure all from c.500 to today. As with some of the other boards’ offering the site study is nested within the British thematic study and does not require a site visit.
Interestingly there are no international relations studies. For centres who have hitherto studied mainly 20C topics there will be much new work to cover, not least a medieval and early modern study as well as a site study.
If this is passed for accreditation throughout the UK then I’ll make more detailed comments on how it compares with the others in terms of overall coherence. I must confess I am not impressed. I found the SAM particularly uninspiring with their dull questions and sources. I think we can make GCSE history a more exciting prospect for all who now have to complete the EBacc.

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