Pupils in Manchester to be allowed more choice of topics and further information to make exams ‘fairer’

It has been decided, following a consultation, that students will be allowed freedom of choice for topics in GCSE English Literature, Ancient History, and History, as well as the ability to decide the content for GCSE Geography.

Pupils across Manchester taking GCSEs and A-Levels will be given a choice of topics as well as the focus of examinations in a bid to “maximise fairness”.

The changes will come into force from 2022 as the Department for Education (DfE) vows to “help students reach their potential” after their learning was disrupted during COVID.

A decision that was reached following a consultation that accrued more than 6,000 responses, resulting in a choice of topics for GCSE English literature, ancient history, and history, as well as a choice of content in GCSE Geography.

The DfE will give pupils advance information “on the focus of exams” across a majority of GCSE, AS and A-Level subjects.

Support materials including resources like formulae sheets will be provided in physics, maths, and combined science exams.

These extra details will be provided to students in the spring, though this has been contested by unions who say that the materials should be allocated earlier to help teachers prepare pupils for examinations.

The results of the consultation read that more than 90% of students and parents were in favour of giving advance information and around 80% wanted a choice of topics.

Students are likely to receive higher grades in 2022 than before the pandemic, with the DfE noting that the exam board will set grade boundaries to represent “a midway point between 2021 and 2019”.

This follows three years where there was a higher proportion of pupils receiving top grades.