Written statement to Parliament

Further additional GCSE and A level subject content consultation

Written ministerial statement on revised subject content for AS and A levels in geology and politics, and GCSE short course in PE.

The Rt Hon Nick Gibb MP

Today, 3 November 2015, I am launching a public consultation on revised subject content for AS and A levels in geology and politics, and GCSE short course in physical education. The new content will be taught from 2017.

We are reforming GCSEs and A levels to be rigorous and more knowledge-based and to match the qualifications used in the best education systems in the world. This consultation is a continuation of our drive to raise standards and ensure all young people reach their potential.

The reforms aim to ensure that GCSEs are more academically demanding and will be qualifications that command the confidence of students, employers, and further and higher education institutions. At A level, our reforms aim to ensure that they prepare students for undergraduate study and the world of work.

A priority in the development process has therefore been to secure the views of subject experts, particularly university academics in the relevant subjects, so young people gain high-quality qualifications that are respected and valued.

The new subject content documents being published today set high expectations which all awarding organisations’ specifications must meet. Awarding organisations have drafted content, working with the Department for Education and Ofqual.

This consultation is an opportunity for teachers, parents, students, further and higher education, employers and all those with an interest in these subjects to provide their views, which will be taken into account when redrafting the content for final publication.

Summary of changes to subjects

The reformed geology AS and A level content ensures a greater level of detail and provides parity with other natural science subjects. It requires students to take a more quantitative and mathematical approach to the study of geology, and new content includes geochemistry and engineering geology. The content also ensures that students develop a range of practical skills and techniques relevant to higher education, and requires students to undertake 4 days of fieldwork at A level and 2 at AS.

The revised subject content for politics AS and A level contains significantly greater detail, and aims to enable students to develop an understanding of the structures of British politics and its underpinning ideas and institutions. There are options to study US and global politics. For the first time, at A level, all students will study the core political theories of conservatism, liberalism and socialism and the ideas of their key thinkers. Students will also study key historic political events and movements.

The new physical education (PE) GCSE short course content represents half the content of the revised PE GCSE that was consulted on and published by the department in January 2015. Like the full-course GCSE, demand has been increased. Students will be assessed in 1 team and 1 individual sport/activity.

Published 3 November 2015