GCSE Science Results 2013 – Toughening Up is a Good Move

Yesterday’s results showed a toughening up of the GCSE science syllabus and marking, the top A-A* grade numbers have gone down significantly since last year and the C grade has gone down a bit as well. I for one think this is a great move and will significantly improve the quality of GCSE science and also a good filter for who is suited to do them at A Level.

Last year I found it quite peculiar that some of my students were now doing triple Science, as in three separate GCSEs in Physics, Chemistry and Biology. This is a very recent move and is almost a fallback to the old days of the GCSEs/O Levels when the norm was taking 3 separate Sciences. Somewhere down the line this was watered down and content was removed so that you only got 2 GCSE grades for doing 3 sciences.

Double Science which is split into Core Science and Additional Science is still fairly easy, though both AQA and Edexcel have changed the syllabus a little for the sciences, though probably not enough to cause the drops of the results we have seen, the drop may well be due to tighter marking controls. My sample of students is of course somewhat skewed as most who can afford private tuition send their children to public schools. Most public schools do the much harder iGCSEs in science rather than GCSEs.

Dissapointinlgy, some students are now allowed to take double science by skipping one of the sciences altogether. They do the two sciences in more depth but skip out a third one. Science is so fundametal in understanding the world that skipping out (say Biology) would deprive you of knowing what antibiotics, how cold infections spread and what they are caused by. This is basic information you would need to know for the rest of your life. I think that doing all 3 sciences as a double award (with each one of 3 sciences in less depth) is far better than doing 2 sciences (in more depth) as a double award.

I welcome toughening up of the sciences and I think maths should go the same way as well.


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