Consultation outcome

GCSE reform: regulations for astronomy

This consultation has concluded

Download the full outcome

Detail of outcome

Conditions and requirements

We proposed to require all reformed GCSEs in astronomy to:

  • comply with the subject content requirements published by the Department for Education, and with our assessment objectives
  • allocate at least 20% of the total marks for assessing mathematical skills
  • allocate at least 15% of the total marks for indirectly assessing knowledge and understanding of observational skills in the exams
  • require centres to provide observational activity statements for students, listing work undertaken by each student during observational activities, and the knowledge, skills and understanding derived from them

Most respondents supported our proposed Conditions and requirements, through some commented that the proposed minimum weighting of 15% of marks allocated to the indirect assessment of observational skills within the exams was too low.

We have considered respondents’ views, however, our view remains that the minimum weighting of 15% for the indirect assessment of observational skills within the exams is appropriate, is consistent with other GCSEs with similar requirements for practical work, and allows for a higher weighting to be adopted where this would be justifiable. The weighting for the indirect assessment of observational skills within the exams is expressed in our requirements as a minimum. It is therefore possible for reformed GCSEs in astronomy to allocate a higher weighting where it is appropriate to do so.

We have reviewed our proposed Conditions and requirements following consultation and are satisfied they are fit for purpose and consistent with our overall approach to reformed GCSEs. We have therefore decided to adopt all our Conditions and requirements unchanged, save for the correction of some minor typographical errors that have not changed the substance of our proposals.


We proposed to introduce guidance on interpreting our assessment objectives.

Respondents broadly supported our proposed guidance, although some suggested ways we could improve the wording.

In response to these comments, we have decided to make changes to the drafting to clarify our expectations (and to ensure consistency with other GCSE subjects), but have not changed the substance of our proposals.

Feedback received

Detail of feedback received

There were seven responses to the consultation – six from organisations, and one individual response.

One respondent did not comment directly on our proposals, but instead provided general comments on the process for reform of GCSEs, AS and A levels.

Two respondents felt that our proposed weighting for observational skills was too low. All other responses were largely supportive of our proposals

Original consultation

This consultation ran from to


A consultation on rules and guidance for new GCSEs in astronomy.


Consultation description

This consultation is about the rules and guidance we plan to put in place for new GCSEs in astronomy. These rules will apply to the new astronomy GCSEs that will be taught in schools in England from September 2017.

This consultation takes forward decisions made following our earlier consultation ‘Development of new GCSEs and A levels for teaching from 2017’, and is part of Ofqual’s work supporting the government’s changes to GCSEs, AS and A levels.