March 2015
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Thoughts on the new GCSE history from 2016

As examination boards beaver away to present their final offering to OFQUAL by next month, I wonder how many of you are beginning to plan what this new linear examination course might look like. Superficially it would seem easy. You have 5 elements so why not 20% if the time for each. One term per element .Perfect. all you need to consider is when to tackle each element. Is the thematic study best at the start or end of the course. What about the local study? Hang on! Not that easy.
OFQUAL’s supplementary guidance, published last month, clearly indicates what they would expect to find, i.e.

1. British depth study at least 15%
2. European Wider world depth study at least 15%
3. Period study at least 20%
4. Thematic study at least 20%
5. Historic environment study at least 10%

If you take these notional weightings as minimum figures then the exam boards have 20% to play with.
Even so, there is still some further guidance from OFQUAL that suggests boards cannot play too fast and loose with the weightings. I refer to their supplementary guidance of February 2015 which clearly states:

The study of the historical environment section should, by its nature be smaller than the thematic unit (and can be linked to , or included within, any of the other elements

So, it could well be that your British history depth study taken from the early Modern period is actually 30% of taught time as it subsumes a study of a ‘dissolved’ monastery. This would be made up of 20% British depth plus 10% historic environment. Suddnely it seems very different from one element per term.

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