November 2013
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No coursework in OFQUAL's proposal for new history GCSE

Just thought I’d alert you to what is afoot at OFQUAL . Today, when announcing changes to Eng and Maths etc they revealed their proposals which will go to consultation. Predictably they went for no tiers, as now, but advocated 100% coursework. If you want to see their flimsy reasoning here it is.

GCSE history is not currently tiered and we see no reason why the reformed history GCSE should be tiered.
Forms of assessment
Our review of controlled assessment35 found a consensus that internal assessment in history allows students to develop valuable research and planning skills that could not be assessed in an exam. However, there are also concerns that current controlled assessment tasks are too prescriptive and that this prevents students from demonstrating their knowledge, and that the time needed to conduct controlled assessment means teaching time is reduced.
We found that the current controlled assessment encourages students to demonstrate historical enquiry skills in ways that would not be possible in a written exam, but we also found that the freedom to choose, plan, research and write up a piece of work allowed too many opportunities for plagiarism, writing frames and too much teacher input.
We therefore propose that all assessment for the reformed history GCSE should be by written exams alone and that the total assessment time should be no less than 3.5 hours. The Department for Education’s curriculum consultation discusses the option of a historical investigation as part of the assessment of the history GCSE, but notes that there would be regulatory issues with such a proposal; it would be difficult to assess it reliably and with sufficient control without undermining the purpose of the proposed investigation.

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