§ Mr. Walden
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he has anything to add to his reply to the hon. Member for Buckingham on 20 June, Official Report, column 306, so far as it relates to grade-related criteria to be introduced into the new GCSE examination.326W
§ Sir Keith Joseph
The purpose of grade-related criteria will be to define the levels of attainment in various aspects or areas of a subject which candidates will need to demonstrate in order to achieve particular grades. Our intention is that they should be embodied in the national criteria for the general certificate of secondary education and in GCSE syllabuses as soon as practicable.
The Secondary Examinations Council is setting up working parties to prepare proposals for grade-related criteria and the associated assessment systems for a first batch of 10 subjects—English, mathematics, French, history, geography, physics, chemistry, biology, craft, design and technology (CDT), and Welsh. These subjects account between them for more than two thirds of total subject entries in the existing 16-plus examinations. The working parties are due to complete their work in the summer of next year. Local education authorities, examining groups and others concerned will be invited to comment. The Secondary Examinations Council will then prepare final versions for approval by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales and myself. Further batches of subjects will be tackled in subsequent years.
As stated in my letter of 20 June to the examining boards, published in the Official Report at column 313 on 20 June, I hope that it may be possible to introduce grade-related criteria for the first subjects simultaneously with GCSE (first courses to begin in September 1986, followed by first examinations in summer 1988). A final decision on this will depend on progress made.