There are a number of types of qualifications available at Key Stage 4.
These courses are Level 2 qualifications in a specific subject. Currently they are assessed by examination only or by a combination of examination, controlled assessment and practical work. All subjects will be graded on the new grading of 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 and 9 with 1 the lowest and 9 the highest. All GCSE courses are now linear. This means that students will not take exams or modules during Year 10 or 11. All the written exams will now be at the end of Year 11.
These courses are Level 2 qualifications equivalent to GCSE courses. The main difference between GCSE courses and BTEC courses is the way in which students learn and the way in which they are assessed. The courses are currently assessed by written assignments which are completed over the 2 years with some form of written exam or assessment at the end of the course. They are graded Distinction*, Distinction, Merit, Pass or Fail. These are Level 2 qualifications equivalent to a GCSE. These courses are currently assessed by written assignments which are completed over the two years. There is an examination at some point in Year 11. They are graded Distinction*, Distinction, Merit, Pass or Fail.
The English Baccalaureate (E-Bacc) is a combination of subjects that must be achieved together at GCSE. It is not a qualification and it is not a subject. The subjects which must all be achieved are English Language or English, Mathematics, Combined Science or Separate Sciences, either History or Geography and a language (French or Spanish). For more information on this click here.
The Government are currently reviewing all of these qualifications and there are some changes for courses taught from 2016. A significant change will be the way that GCSEs will be marked. Going forward all GCSEs will be graded 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 and 9 where 1 is the lowest and 9 is the highest.