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Last Updated: Monday, 9 October 2006, 14:34 GMT 15:34 UK
Science GCSE with online exams
school computer room
The course fits with pupils' greater use of computers
School pupils can now take a GCSE entirely online - including doing the coursework and exams electronically.

Online courses have been around for some time and there has been online or "e-assessment" of various tests.

But the new environmental and land-based science course is said to be the first totally non-paper GCSE.

It is being offered by the OCR exam board and is aimed at those considering careers such as horticulture, farming, waste management and conservation.

OCR said candidates would sit computer-based tests under normal controlled examination conditions and submit their coursework electronically - so they could incorporate video, photographs, presentations and written reports.

Patrick Craven from OCR said: "This new qualification is a real landmark in the assessment of students at school."

School farm

The GCSE is part of a new science "suite" marking changes to the syllabus this year. It is being taken by some 2,000 students.

One of the first schools to offer it is Thomas Alleyne's High School in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, which has its own farm with pigs, sheep, calves and turkeys.

Advanced Skills Teacher Martin Wedgwood said it wanted a qualification that reflected the everyday use students now tended to make of information technology.

"Another positive is that the online assessment will put an end to endless reams of paper for both students and teachers, which will make an enormous difference to us, as students can often mislay much of this paperwork," he said.

"We also feel that it will enable students to take a much slicker and more professional approach to their work by presenting their work electronically."




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