The current DfE policy is that any subject that is a GCSE can not be substantially replicated as a Tech Award. Tech Awards are the new vocational qualifications targeted on pupils pre-16. In Prgress and attainment 8 there will be maths and English GCSE that all do, 3 Ebacc GCSEs and 3 others. The 3 others can be GCSEs such as music, art and PE but they canalso be Tech Awards. This provides scope for up to 3/8 of the curriculum to have a vocational practical emphasis.
So what are the constraints on Tech Awards?
- They are not supposed to replicate academic subjects that are already specified as GCSEs. This means no Tech Awards in English, Maths, Physics, Computer Science, History, Geography, MFLs etc.
- Tech Awards should be fundamentally practical and provide some useful skills as well as knowledge and understanding.
- Tech Awards should not be very highly specific to an occupation and provide progression to other higher level qualifications post 16.
So we can't have a Physics, Maths, Biology, Chemistry or Science Tech Award but could we have one in something related to the STEM subjects? One way to do it would be to have a Level 1 award in say Engineering. Engineering is not a GCSE so a Tech Award in it would be reasonable. If we defined the assessment criteria in terms of engineering principles, specifically drawing upon science and maths in general to solve engineering problems and at the same time provide the focus for learning science and maths, that might well work. Level 1 is about the same as L4/5 in the old national curriculum and so we could organise a Level 1 course targeted mainly on the end of KS3. In other words we provide a focus for recognising KS3 achievement and the STEM subjects contribute evidence. We use a cloud based managment system to make those contributions easy from any of the STEM subjects. Pupils are then more motivated through KS3 because they are working towards getting their certificate. The brightest can do a Level 2 exam end of KS3 and get A*-C equivalence and still go on and do GCSE science as that is a different subject and it will have a different discount code for league table points. Chances are they will be better prepared and so get higher grades. We can make a Level 3 STEM award that can be done by the highest flyers in KS4 if they get A/A* grades early. That would not get league tble points but kids getting A*s in Year 9 and 10 will probably get al the school needs in that respect anyway, it just means the brightest kids are not just marking time and can be better prepared for A levels in maths or science.
If there is sufficient interest in this I can design and submit qualifications in the net round and they will get league table points for 2018. Just send me an e-mail or leave a reply to the blog.