The RSS is pleased with the revised A level and AS level Statistics content that was announced on Tuesday (1 March) by schools minister Nick Gibb.
In a statement that also covered reforms in AS and A level geology and politics along with physical education and sociology GCSEs, Gibb said the revised subject content will be offered for schools in England to teach from September 2017.
The new curriculum is welcomed by the RSS, who argued (as set out in this article) that A and AS level Statistics should be particularly suited to those students interested in pursuing further study in a quantitative subject, for example in the social sciences. The government’s response to the consultation on reforming subject content (PDF) notes that some respondents had suggested scrapping A level in statistics on the grounds that new A level maths and core maths qualifications will contain more core statistical content than currently. However, the government response acknowledges that AS/A level in statistics 'does offer another important pathway, especially for those students planning to go on to study social science degrees or statistics at undergraduate level'.
Scott Keir, head of education and statistical literacy at the RSS explains how the new A and AS statistics qualification has been redesigned: 'The approach is now focused on the statistical enquiry cycle to help make sense of data trends and to solve statistical problems in a variety of contexts,' he says. 'There is a clear emphasis on preparing students for further study in subjects other than mathematics that focus on quantitative research – such as psychology, biology, geography, business, and the social sciences.
Ofqual are likely to consult on detailed regulations for this qualification in due course, before specifications become available.
GCSE Statistics content has also been confirmed, and was announced on 5 February 2016. Its emphasis on practical application of the statistical enquiry cycle and the use of technology in the classroom is welcomed by the RSS. Following assessment reforms GCSE, AS and A Level Statistics will be 100% assessed by exam. The RSS’ pending response to Ofqual's draft regulations for GCSE Statistics, supports their proposal to publish further guidance, and calls for this to address practical work and its relationship to the exam.