December 2015
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Designing your new GCSE history course for examination in 2018

As the leading exam board have now had their new GCSE history courses accredited, our thoughts now need to turn to planning the new course. I have been somewhat dismayed by the tone of some of the boards’ statements about their new courses. It seems that the market imperative  drives all that they say. Listening to AQA’s recent webinar, their Chief Examiner’s response to how to plan a 3-year course, ran along the lines of  ” use what you already know and what’s in the cupboard”. I can see that this advice is sound, on one level, but it would have been nice to have heard a little more thought being given the importance of intelligent curriculum design and what might best advantage the students’ learning. Much of this knowledge will come with experience as schools try new approaches, but all schools must start with their own.  Rather than see the new GCSE as an unnecessary interference and additional workload, it might be the right time to plan something creative. Will you teach the four units as separate silos? Will you give each the same amount of teaching time? Which topics are best suited to the beginning and end of course? How much time should you be protecting for revision given the linear courses?  How do you build on KS3 experience without too much demotivating duplication. AQA offers one model which uses a chunk of early Y10 to revise Y9 work. I can’t see this working, but you might. Another model suggests ‘covering content’ first and then use Y11 for analysis.

Over the next week I will be uploading a series of different models for the new GCSE courses, along with accompanying rationales. Also in the pipeline is a file of 20 questions you need to ask before deciding what to teach with the new GCSE and when.

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