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Ofqual Consultation - Completing GCSE, AS and A Level Reform

The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) has launched a consultation into Completing GCSE, AS and A Level Reform. Details of the consultation along with the Terms of Reference can be found on the Ofqual website. The submission produced by the Geological Society can be found below:

Submitted 30 July 2014

1. This submission is made jointly by the Geological Society and the Committee of Heads of University Geosciences Departments:

i. The Geological Society (GSL) is the UK’s learned and professional body for geoscience, with more than 11,000 Fellows (members) worldwide. The Fellowship encompasses those working in industry, academia and government with a broad range of perspectives on policy-relevant science, and the Society is a leading communicator of this science to government bodies and other non-specialist audiences.
ii. The Committee of Heads of University Geosciences Departments (CHUGD) is the subject association of Geoscience (geology, applied geology, Earth science, geophysics, geochemistry and some environmental science) departments/schools based within universities in the British Isles. It promotes discussion and exchange of information between departments and provides a point of contact between these and professional, government and quality control agencies.

2. We have not addressed most of the consultation questions. We have prepared this response in order to express our support for key proposals set out in the consultation document, and our wish to work closely with exam boards and others in developing reformed GCSE, AS and A-level qualifications in Geology.

3. We welcome the proposal that exam boards should work together to develop core content as the basis for GCSE, AS and A-level qualifications, and that in doing so they should engage with subject associations, HE representatives and other stakeholders, as set out at paragraph 4.4 of the consultation document.

4. We support the principles to be considered in determining subject availability set out at paragraphs 4.11-4.23, and the criteria for qualifications set out there and in Appendix A. We are confident that continued availability of GCSE, AS and A-level qualifications in Geology is consistent with these principles, and that it will be possible to develop reformed qualifications which demonstrably meet the criteria.

5. GSL and CHUGD welcome the opportunity to reform and improve existing GCSE, AS and A-level Geology qualifications presented by the proposed approach to completing qualification reform. We have also started to discuss this matter with the Earth Science Teachers Association (ESTA), and we understand that ESTA also welcomes this opportunity.

6. Our three organisations (GSL, CHUGD and ESTA) are keen to work together with the WJEC exam board (which currently offers GCSE, AS and A-level Geology), the OCR exam board (which offers AS and A-level Geology), any other exam boards who may wish to participate, and other stakeholders in the wider geoscience community, in order to make the most of this opportunity. We are confident that it will be possible to develop core content, and subsequently GCSE, AS and A-level specifications, which are exciting to students, reflect current geoscientific understanding, are suitably demanding and rigorous, and which meet the requirements of university admissions tutors and employers, building on the success of the current qualifications. We will very shortly be writing to the WJEC and OCR boards, expressing our wish to work with them to ensure that GCSE, AS and A-level Geology qualifications are reformed as effectively as possible, and that their continued provision is secure.