GCSE reform

| More

GCSEs are changing! New specifications are being developed by the Awarding Organisations for first teaching from September 2016. Draft specifications are now available from the AOs. Read this article from GA Magazine for a summary of the draft specifications.

To find out about the new specifications and start to explore some of their key changes and challenges, join the GA and the four major awarding organisations for a CPD event in London in November. This conference will enable teachers to make an informed choice about the new GCSE geography specifications and take away practical teaching advice and examples of good practice.


What's changed

Key features of the new GCSE

  • a numerical grading system replaces letter grades
  • untiered exam papers and increased expectation for extended writing in examinations
  • more detailed core content criteria for all GCSEs in geography: some teachers may teach aspects they haven’t previously covered at this level, such as extreme weather conditions and natural weather hazards, global ecosystems or urban trends in different parts of the world
  • the geography of the UK, both in overview and through some depth study. For teachers, this means more than just providing ‘case studies’ from within the UK, but developing knowledge of its landscapes, environmental challenges, changing economy and society etc
  • strengthened content requirements for fieldwork: students must be offered “different approaches to fieldwork undertaken in at least two contrasting environments” and schools must confirm that they have offered all students these opportunities
  • an end to controlled assessment in favour of terminal exams, meaning geography teachers will need to develop new approaches to fieldwork post Controlled Assessment.

This PowerPoint from Alan Kinder, explores the key changes and challenges of the new GCSEs given at GA CPD events in London, Birmingham and Manchester in June/July 2015.

External links

DfE - Final GCSE content criteria

Ofqual - final GCSE assessment objectives

DfE - Latest news and information about key stage 4 qualifications (DfE website)

GCSE reforms Q and A (Guardian website)

Ofqual - summary of qualification changes

FAQs >>>

Comment on this page

Comments made by GA members appear instantly and don't require security words to be entered - make sure you're logged in! Guest comments will be sent to a moderator for approval.


Isobel George

Isobel George GA Member

There is no rational for using a numerical system; it is change for the sake of change.


julie Guest

the new GCSE sounds challenging. How much course work will be needed and what sort of boundaries are there If so.

Join the GA

For professional journals, huge discounts on publications and CPD and online access to member only resources.

Join now


  • Primary Geography
  • Teaching Geography
  • Geography

Free access to subscribers

Receive our email newsletters

Sign up to our email newsletter for all the latest news and updates throughout the year.