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Curriculum Change Explained

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Curriculum Change Explained

Confused what a grade 5 is? Not sure whether you should encourage your child to take an AS level? Here’s a handy overview to Curriculum Change in England.

What does the curriculum change mean for A-levels?


  • AS Levels are now considered a separate exam, and do not contribute to the A Level. Instead, the A Level qualification exam will be taken at the end of two years of study and encompass all the material covered in those two years.

  • Students who only want to study to AS Level can still sit the exam and then decide to do the A Level, but they will be tested on two years’ worth of content in the A Level exam.

  • There is less focus on coursework, which further emphasises the importance of the exams at the end of the second year of study.

  • Grading remains unchanged, and still have the grades A* - F.


  • Changes have been made at a subject specific level, but there has been little impact on the content of A Levels, with more focus being placed on the structure explained above.

  • Maths has seen the biggest change, just with GCSE the subject matter has gotten harder.

What does the curriculum change mean for GCSEs?
  • Tiering has been removed from GCSE so there is no longer foundation and higher tiers. This means all students will sit the same exam. The only exceptions to this are Maths and some Science specifications which will still have a separation between foundation and higher levels.
  • English has split into English Language and English Literature and is now two separate GCSEs.
  • The Grading structure has changed from letters (A*- F) to numbers. The numbers run from 9 to 1, with 9 being the highest grade possible and considered harder to get than an A*.
  • Coursework has also been reduced in favour of exams. Apart from in some subjects like Geography, which has fieldwork, coursework will count less toward the final grade.
  • More content is now covered in exams, so teachers are spending more time in the classroom teaching content rather than revising for exams.
  • In some subjects the content will also be harder, particularly in Maths.
  • The English Language GCSE will be weighted in favour of spelling, punctuation and grammar, contributing 20% of the final grade. This makes a change from earlier exams which was weighted in favour of speaking and listening.
  • The English Literature GCSE now includes a wider range of texts but there are no set texts. Students now cover 4 main areas of classic Literature, including Shakespeare and Charles Dickens.