A Parents’ Guide to GCSEs

Your child is approaching their final few years at school and is about to sit their GCSEs. Up until now, you may not have heard of a controlled assessment and may be confused on how best to support your child. Other than the jargon, there’s not very much that you will need to get your head around. We can fill you in and help you to be the best support possible for your child during this stressful time. Here is a parents’ guide to GCSEs which we have created with a SHSAT Tuition provider to help.

What Are GCSEs?
GCSEs are the level 2 qualifications that will form the basis for the rest of your child’s education and work life going forwards. They will learn content that provides them with the foundations for life and helps them to build essential skills like numeracy that are tested through examinations and coursework. Typically, assessments are exam-based which is where they differ from vocational courses.

Must My Child Complete Their GCSEs?

For the reasons mentioned above, GCSEs are vital to obtain as they help employers to decipher between candidates and prove their ability. However, they aren’t completely mandatory and there are other kinds of courses that your child can complete if they are not well suited to exams and prefer a more hands on approach to learning. These are known as BTECs and have a coursework element. Usually, the decision on which to do will be made by their teachers as they are aware of the challenges involved from past experience with other pupils and their observations of your child.

What Is a Controlled Assessment?

A controlled assessment is another way in which your child can be assessed. They will usually count towards a percentage of their overall grade and help them to build skills that can be applied to the real world. They are controlled as the name suggests which means that while they are completed in a more relaxed setting like the classroom, exam conditions must be upheld.

How Are GCSEs Graded?

The GCSE grading system changed in 2017 and now follows a number system. The grades that can be awarded range from 1 to 9. 9 is the best possible grade that can be awarded and is the equivalent of a high A* while a 1 is the equivalent of a G on the old system.

What Is “Foundation” and “Higher”?
Aside from the vocational courses that are available, there are two GCSE tiers that your child can sit – foundation and higher. As indicated, the “higher” tier contains harder questions but requires fewer marks to pass. The foundation tier on the other hand contains questions that are less tricky but can be more difficult to pass as there are more questions that need to be answered correctly in order to pass. The highest possible grade that can be awarded to someone sitting a foundation exam is also a 5 (strong pass), capping their potential and making the decision of which to sit an important one.

When Do GCSE Exams Take Place?

GCSE exams usually commence in May and finish around June. As they will have no other content to cover following the completion of their exams, your child will be able to take an early leave and have an extended summer before starting college or sixth form.

How Can I Help My Child Choose the Right GCSEs?

That entirely is down to them and what they want to pursue a career in. Talking to them about their passions and aspirations will help you to gauge this and help them to figure it out.

Last Updated on 2 years by Lavania Oluban

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