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Certificates and Qualifications
The General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) is awarded for achievements in most of the subjects that you could take. It usually includes an examination at the end of Year 11 and usually (but not always) includes teacher-assessed coursework or controlled assessment (see below). Grades A* to G are awarded to students who reach particular standards in most subjects. This year group will be the first ones graded on a new scale of 1 - 9 for English and maths (9 being the highest). In the future all subjects will be graded in this way.
GCSE examinations in some subjects can be entered at higher and foundation but for several subjects there is just one tier of entry now.
The Entry Level Certificate
The Entry Level Certificate is a qualification for students who are unlikely to gain grade G at GCSE. It is based on the National Curriculum for KS4 and is related to GCSE syllabuses to allow two-way transfer between GCSE courses and certificate courses where appropriate. In some subjects the assessment is made by the teacher, in others a final examination is used to assess achievements. Three levels of award are available: Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3, where Level 3 is the highest.
Many of the skills that you will learn during Key Stage 4 cannot be tested by a written examination at the end of your course. These important skills, which include practical skills, oral (speaking) skills and the ability to tackle long pieces of work (coursework projects etc.) will be assessed by your teacher as the course proceeds.
These pieces of controlled assessment take place during lesson time and therefore regular attendance at school is imperative. They are completed in supervised conditions and it becomes very difficult to catch up any sessions that are missed. Sometimes students will need to do some preparation for these controlled assessments at home and quite often many weeks of lesson time, before that actual assessment, are used in preparation for the actual task. Controlled assessment can be as much as 60% of the final grade (see individual subject details for clarification).