GCSE reform

GCSE geography from 2016

A new GCSE Geography is being taught from September 2016 and the GA is here to support you. On these pages you will find advice from the GA, information about what has changed including frequently asked questions, guidance on choosing your new GCSE specification, and the process of GCSE reform that has taken place.


Information about what has changed

Advice from the GA

Choosing your new GCSE specification

Teaching GCSE from 2016 - Resources

The GCSE reform process



GA support for teaching GCSE

GA resources

The GA publishes a range of publications for use with GCSE level students, such as the GCSE Geography Teachers’ Toolkit series, as well as DVDs and resources on our website.

Subscribe to a journal

Geography, the international journal of the GA, contains many articles of recent research by leading geographers. Teaching Geography is our journal for secondary geography teachers contains subject updates as well as teaching ideas to help you with the new GCSE.

GA CPD events

Book on a CPD event

Take your students to a GA Branch lecture

We have around 40 GA Branches many of which have a programme of lectures for A level and GCSE students.

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)

Ofqual - summary of qualification changes

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.

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