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Details of 'rigorous' exams set out

A-level maths students will have to analyse global statistics on topics such as health and mortality in the future, whilst those studying a language will have to learn about the nation's literature and culture, it has been revealed.

Writing programs will form a key part of the new GCSE in computer science, and in music, there will be minimum requirements on the amount of time teenagers should spend on performing and composing.

Ministers are unveiling details of around a dozen new GCSE and A-level courses - due to be introduced into schools in England from 2016 - in the latest stage of major reforms to the exams system.

They have insisted that the new qualifications will be tougher, help to raise standards and deal with concerns that teenagers are arriving at university unprepared for degree study.

Under the latest proposals, A-level maths will have a new emphasis on problem solving to improve students' understanding of mathematical concepts, the Department for Education (DfE) said, while there will also be a new requirement for teenagers to interpret a real, large data set, such as health and mortality statistics from around the world.

A-level geography will include more fieldwork, and youngsters will have to study topics ranging from global systems and governance to water and carbon cycling.

Sixth-formers taking an A-level in a foreign language will be expected to use the language "spontaneously" in discussions, the DfE said, and learn about the relevant country's literature, culture and sociological issues.

Details of a new GCSE in computer science are also being published. This qualification will become part of the Government's English Baccalaureate, a performance measure that recognises youngsters that score at least a C at GCSE in English, maths, science, a foreign language and history or geography.

Teenagers taking the course will have to analyse and solve problems, write and refine programs, learn about different data types and understand important mathematical principles, the department said.

A new music GCSE includes new minimum requirements on performing and composing, with changes also made to A-levels in PE and dance, and GCSEs in art and design, dance and PE.

A DfE spokesman said: "Our top to bottom reform of GCSEs and A-levels will mean young people are leaving school with the skills they need to secure a good job, an apprenticeship or a place at university. These rigorous new exams will equip our children with the best skills and education so they can fulfil their ambitions and succeed in a global workforce.

"By making these exams more stretching we will give pupils, parents, teachers, universities and employers greater confidence in the integrity and reliability of our qualifications system.

"Improving the quality of our schools and qualifications is a critical part of our long-term economic plan to build a brighter future for Britain."

Details of a number of other GCSE and A-level courses, due to be phased in from next year, have already been announced.

Among the changes are reforms to A-level science which will see students carrying out at least a dozen practical experiments.

A-level English students will face exams on ''unseen'' texts, whilst a t GCSE, teenagers taking foreign languages will be asked to do more translating from English, and those studying history will have to learn more about Britain's past.


From Belfast Telegraph