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Last Updated: Friday, 6 October 2006, 07:53 GMT 08:53 UK
GCSE course changes 'fair to all'
student working at desk
Coursework was introduced along with GCSEs in 1988
Welsh Education Minister Jane Davidson has defended the decision to scrap GCSE coursework in some subjects, saying the system must be "fair to all".

Maths coursework will be scrapped next September and "controlled assessments" in other GCSEs will follow.

Ms Davidson said the changes would help eliminate plagiarism but would still allow pupils' independent study.

"The key aspect is we must have public confidence in the system," said Ms Davidson.

Under the changes, which will be "gently introduced" by 2009, coursework in subjects including English literature and geography will be replaced by assessments done under teacher supervision.

There are no plans, however, to rule out practical assessments in subjects such as art and design, design and technology, home economics, music and PE, although these subjects will also have "stronger safeguards".

Coursework will be replaced by controlled assessments in:
Business studies
Classical subjects
English literature
Modern foreign languages
Religious studies
Social sciences

Decisions for Welsh as a first and second language and Welsh literature are yet to be announced.

The changes, which are also being introduced for pupils in England, were first revealed last week.

Ms Davidson said they wanted the work to be done in a "fairer setting where teachers and pupils can both have confidence."

"It's not just about plagiarism," she said. "It's also about whether or not coursework which was designed 20 years ago is fit for purpose."

"While people can gnaw away at the edges and the curriculum authorities don't respond adequately, that contributes to reducing public confidence.

"I feel strongly as minister I want to make sure that every child out there who takes an examination knows that the public feels that the value of the examination is appropriate."

Level playing field

The changes do not require legislation and from 2009 all GCSE awarding bodies will be setting coursework where appropriate under the new arrangements, Ms Davidson added.

Steve Marshall, head teacher of St Julian's Comprehensive in Newport, said he "very much favoured" the announcement.

"We think it's sensible and we're very pleased that it brings Wales into line with England and Northern Ireland," said Mr Marshall, who is also a member of the Association of School and College Leaders executive in Wales.

Mr Marshall also said Wales needed an examination system in which the public felt confidence.

"This will end up with us having a system which the people outside schools can be truly confident in. It's going to be a level playing field for our pupils and students," he added.

In the past, teaching unions have generally been supportive of such measures, but have been keen to ensure they would not mean extra work for teachers.

"We must have a system in which public, teachers, pupils, employers have faith"

Maths GCSE coursework is dropped
27 Sep 06 |  Education
Coursework plan to halt cheating
31 Jul 06 |  Education
Teachers get new coursework guide
03 Mar 06 |  Education

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