‘How are the changes in the GSCE mathematics curriculum affecting both teachers and students?’ - A study into the effects of the 2015 changes to the content and grading scheme of the mathematics syllabus.

Student,, A. (2016) ‘How are the changes in the GSCE mathematics curriculum affecting both teachers and students?’ - A study into the effects of the 2015 changes to the content and grading scheme of the mathematics syllabus. Undergraduate thesis, University of Chichester.

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In September 2015, schools started teaching from a new curriculum in mathematics, with the first exams scheduled to take place in the summer of 2017. (BBCNews, 2014) There are many changes within this new syllabus, in regards to both content and structure of exams. New material has been added, and the placement of topics in Foundation and Higher Tier exam papers has shifted, which many believe has increased the difficulty of the exams. (Schoolzone, n.d.) (AQA, n.d.) (Schoolzone, 2013) Also the grading system has been completely re-vamped.

In this study I will be conducting a small scale investigation into how these changes will be affecting both teachers and students in a secondary school. I will look into how the content changes and new grading system are viewed, by both students and staff, and what changes the school has had to make as a whole to accommodate the changes.
Grades are now no longer given in letter form, from A* to G – but are now numerical, from 1 to 9 (AQA, n.d.), with 9 being the optimal grade. The exam board AQA have provided an overview of the correlation between the old and new grading systems;
“We currently have eight grades and when the new grading is introduced we will have nine, with grade 9 bring the best available grade. How will the new system correlate to the old one?
• The new system allows for greater differentiation, having nine numerical grades in place of eight letter grades
• The new numbered grades will not translate directly from the old grades A* - G, but we do know that approximately the same proportion of students who currently achieve:
o grade A or higher will receive a grade 7 or higher
o grade C or higher will receive a grade 4 or higher
• Grade 9 will be a new grade for very high performing students, to be set as the top fifth of the current A grades
• Grade 5 will be the benchmark for a 'good pass'
• The bottom of grade 1 will be the same as the bottom of grade G” (AQA, n.d.)
As described above, the same percentage of students currently obtaining a C, will now receive a grade 4 – however the benchmark for an acceptable pass grade has risen to a 5. This means that a fewer percentage of students will obtain the necessary grade to be accepted into colleges and universities without having to retake their exams. Having said this, there were plans for the first cohort of students taking the new GCSE’s to be given a ‘grace’ period, where the same percentage of students will obtain the benchmarked ‘C’ grade – or a ‘4’ as it is now known as; (Ofqual, 2014) which was overwhelming supported by respondents to Ofqual’s survey. (Neale & Satara, 2014) The proposed change to a numerical grading system is gradually being rolled out across all subjects, starting with English and Mathematics to be sat in summer 2017; with other subjects being introduced to the system for examinations in the summers of 2018 and 2019. (Gov.uk, 2015)

As well as a new grading system, extra content has been added to the higher tier papers, and some topics shifting down to the lower tier. For example, students hoping to achieve a benchmark pass grade will now be expected to understand and use simple trigonometry, which previously was found on the more stretching higher tier papers. Another major change to the content is the introduction of harder, worded, problem solving style questions, which are aimed to stretch and challenge higher ability students, and make the mathematics more relatable to the real world. This change is to fall in line with the governments’ ideals of producing more academically able, but also socially adept young adults.

Item Type: Thesis (Undergraduate)
Additional Information: BSc (Hons) Mathematics and Teaching
Uncontrolled Keywords: maths, mathematics, GCSE,
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
Q Science > QA Mathematics
Divisions: Departments > Education
Undergraduate Dissertations
Depositing User: Ruth Clark
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2017 11:14
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2017 11:27
URI: http://eprints.chi.ac.uk/id/eprint/3051

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