The amount of work needed to revamp GCSE examinations has led to Ofqual enforcing a 12-month delay on the government.
The exams regulator has written to education secretary Michael Gove insisting that it “cannot be confident that new, high-quality GCSEs in all subjects could be ready in good time for first teaching from 2015”.
Of the nine GCSEs earmarked for relaunch in September 2015, chief regulator Glenys Stacey told Mr Gove that they will concentrate on having new English language, English literature and mathematics GCSEs ready to go into schools next autumn for first teaching a year later.
The remaining six subjects – physics, biology, chemistry, combined sciences, history, geography – will now be developed for first teaching in 2016, alongside languages GCSE which had already been scheduled for 2016.
Ms Stacey added: “This reform programme will be challenging for all those involved, but I am confident – as are the exam boards – that the end result will be good qualifications which will be more worthwhile, better assessed and more resilient.”
Mr Gove replied to Ms Stacey’s letter stating: “You have provided expert advice on these requirements and we have agreed that the development of reformed GCSEs should be rephased.
“The rephasing will allow schools to focus on preparing for teaching of new English and mathematics examinations and provide them with more preparation time for GCSEs in other subjects.”
Ofqual’s consultation over the structure of the new GCSEs came to an end last week and Ms Stacey said they are “considering the responses now”. The proposals include the removal of coursework in all subjects except science, a move to terminal examinations and higher pass rates.
Ofqual has said that many of the principles agreed for the first nine GCSEs, such as the coursework changes, will also be applied when proposed reforms to the remaining GCSEs are published.
The Department for Education has been holding a parallel consultation over the content of the reformed GCSEs, which closed during the summer on August 20.