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The BBC is reporting today on the news that exam regulators Ofqual have deemed the new maths GCSEs ‘too difficult’.

The exams from Edexcel, OCR and WJEC have been deemed too difficult, whereas the papers from AQA need to be more challenging.

Michael Gove announced the reform of the maths syllabus in 2013, along with reforms to other GCSE subjects and a new grading system, in an attempt to make the qualification more ‘rigorous’  in order to bring it in line with high-performing countries such as Singapore, Finland and Australia.

The Independent reports that:

Sample papers were sat by 4,000 students as part of the study. Even the most high-performing schools, including one in which 100 per cent of students normally achieved at least a grade C, did badly in the new papers.

The Ofqual report, published yesterday, summarises the findings as follows:

Overall, the sample assessments are more difficult than the current papers and the difficulty of the higher tier assessments is more in line with that of international jurisdictions. However, while AQA’s current exam papers were judged to be the most difficult of exam boards’ GCSE papers, AQA have not increased the difficulty of their sample assessments. There is, therefore, a difference in difficulty across the boards, which could have negative consequences for teaching and learning.

There is also a significant risk that all but AQA’s assessments will be too difficult for the full range of ability of the cohort for which the qualification is intended. This is likely to prevent the reliable grading of students. The additional challenge will be beneficial for the most able students but the assessments also need to support a positive experience for the rest of the cohort so as to ensure that all students become more confident and competent as mathematicians.

Assurance has been given by the exam boards that changes will be made so that the issues identified are rectified before teaching for the new Maths GCSE commences in September.