Schoolzone blog: Are you ready for new specs?

Are you ready for new specs?


11 Sept 2015

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This question might sound a little late, given that schools have already started teaching to the new specs for maths and English at GCSE and several subjects at A-level, but we suspect that many departments have started in on new courses without particularly knowing definitely which awarding body they'll ultimately enter their students for. It's a lot easier to do this now for some subjects, since there's no coursework and the content of the specs is so similar. Awarding bodies have been left with a high degree of uncertainty as a result, which makes life difficult for them.

This is not good, because, as teachers told us in last term's Talking Heads discussion, the relationships between awarding bodies and schools have suffered considerably in recent years: where there was once partnership and support, there is now a much higher degree of suspicion and distrust. Government intervention and much higher profile reporting of exam failing, along with Gove's heavy handed intrusion into the work of awarding bodies and arguments with Ofqual, seem to have combined to undermine what was once much more of a two way relationship.

One of the major difficulties seems to have been the relationship between awarding bodies and publishers, which has now led to a different approach to AB approval of textbooks, though teachers don't really seem to understand the new process. Textbooks are back on the agenda again, of course, because Nick Gibb - and now Ofsted, apparently - are keen on them again. Times of specification change tend to lead teachers to take more of an interest in them too, so publishers have been working on many new titles - not all of which have been published yet.

So, what's the state of play in schools right now? Have they settled on specs in some subjects but not others? Do they place greater value on approved textbooks? Have the revisions of specs led to schools talking the opportunity to make fresh starts, or are they carrying on with their previous ABs? Please help us find out.



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