Ofqual may rethink approach to approving new GCSEs and A levels

Giving teachers time to prepare is highlighted as a priority

Sally Collier, who is likely to become the next Ofqual chief executive, has indicated that the exams watchdog could take a “different approach” to the approval of new GCSEs and A levels, to make sure teachers have “enough time” to prepare for the qualifications.

Speaking to the Commons Education Select Committee this morning, Ms Collier (pictured) said that making sure the new qualifications, due to be taught from September, were accredited on time would be her “most immediate challenge”.

Ms Collier is the government’s preferred candidate for the role. Asked whether, in general, she thought reforms should be introduced as a “quick fix” or at a “gentler approach”, she said neither was quite right.

She offered the example of the accreditation of new GCSEs and A levels, saying: “If we look at accreditation, are we likely to get enough subjects accredited so teachers have enough time to teach – I think good progress is being made.

“If there comes a point where the potential for Ofqual to fulfil its role is compromised then clearly it’s a decision for the Ofqual board to say ‘No, a different approach needs to be taken.'”

‘National scandal’

Ms Collier acknowledged that the exams system was in the middle of “an intensive period of reform” and said 77 of the 156 new GCSE and A-level specifications had now been approved.

The long wait for new exam specifications to be approved has sparked fury in the profession, with Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL teaching union, warning last month that it was a “national scandal”.

But Ofqual’s acting executive director for general qualifications, Julie Swan, responded that the watchdog was not complacent” about getting the new specifications approved.

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