Pros and Cons of starting new course specifications

Pretty much everyone (including teachers) going back to school or college in September will feel a bit like guinea pigs. Many of you will be the first group to be taught a new specification and maybe a new system of grading (GCSE). But not all courses will be new – for many there will be a mixture of studying the new specifications in some subjects and the dying old specifications in others.

New course specifications

If you’re studying GCSEs or A-Levels you can expect these subjects to be new:

AS/Alevels changing in September 
art and design, biology, business, chemistry, computer science, economics, English language, English language and literature, English literature, history, physics, psychology, sociology

GCSEs changing: English Literature and Language plus Maths

Full list of when your subjects are changing is available here.So what’s best – studying the new spec or the old spec? Here’s our not-totally serious guide. 

If you’ve got a new subject starting this year- here’s what to expect:

PRO: Teachers feel fresh and enthusiastic but … 
CON: … they’re are really not sure what they should be teaching when and for how long – they’re just sick of all the changes 

PRO: Brand new sparkling multi-media textbooks with online support but … 
CON: … lots of schools can’t afford them; or the books aren’t quite ready or they’re just too difficult 

PRO: The specifications are much more up to date … 
CON: … but so up to date that the content is beyond most teachers who did their uni course many years ago 

PRO: New exam papers are at the cutting edge of assessment techniques … 
CON: … but no one’s sure whether real students will be able to do them 

PRO: Everyone wants the new course to be a success … 
CON: … but the media keep going on about exams being too easy so the results can’t improve too much or the boards will be accused of ‘dumbing down’ 

Or if you’ve got another few years of the old specification, this is what’s in store for you:

PRO: Teachers are very experienced at teaching it … 
CON: … they’re bored and sick of teaching the same old stuff year after year 

PRO: There are loads of tried and tested resources available in the form of text books and your teacher’s own … 
CON: … dog-eared textbooks with graffiti all over them; boring handouts with endless writing 

PRO: Exam papers quite predictable … 
CON: … but the last year of the spec is the time for examiners to examine some weird backwater of the course that they’ve never ever asked about 

PRO: It’s the last year of the course so examiners can be generous … 
CON: … but the results can’t be seen to improve in the last year of the course or the media will claim that standards have slipped and “it was so much harder in our day” etc. 

Are you worried or excited about starting a new course in September? Do you think it will even affect you at all?