Since the late 1990s, the majority of formal GCSE and Advanced Level exams have been modular in nature with significant proportions of the assessment being based on coursework or controlled assessment. The recent reforms of the exam framework have reversed this trend and GCSE and Advanced Levels are now assessed by linear exams taken at the end of a two-year course. New exam specifications have substantially greater content than previously, meaning that learning demands on students in preparation for examinations are much heavier than in the recent past.
This is perhaps the greatest challenge for a generation of teachers. Schools are systematically creating opportunities to develop self-management skills in our students. In order to successfully engage with the new linear exam regime, they must master large bodies of knowledge, concepts and skill sets. A range of strategies will develop over time to support these priorities.
At The Bewdley School we have taken a number of steps to facilitate this work. Our curriculum has been restructured so that Key Stages 3 and 4 are both two and a half years. At the end of year 8 students practise option choices by taking 3 ‘creative options for the first half of year 9. This readies them for the actual options process half-way through the year, ensuring that they have a clear understanding of the process and of their own priorities, when they choose their 4 GCSE options. The only restriction is that one of these must be an EBacc subject.
At Advanced Level we have increased curriculum provision so that each A Level subject is taught for 5 hours per week, which has gradually increased from 4 hours over a two-year period. The tutor team has been expanded and two additional Assistant Heads of Sixth provide individual student support and an infrastructure for enrichment. At both GCSE and Advanced Level there is an extensive revision programme, and below are links to a range of available resources.