Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment
CCEA Curriculum Monitoring Programme 2018-19

News and Events

ASE Northern Ireland Conference 21st June 2019

See below for workshop information and details of how to register.

See what's happening at the NI ASE Conference - Friday 21st June.

Workshops for Post Primary Teachers

Kevin Henderson CCEA - Awarding Grades in GCSE Science, this session will look at the methodology of how GCSE grades will be awarded in Summer 2019. An update of a very popular workshop from 2017.

Pat Hanson, St Pius x College - Numeracy and Thinking Skills in Science, Pat will look at examples of numeracy activities that are naturally infused within the science curriculum, these will include interactive student activities for the classroom.

CCEA/RSC - Developing Thinking Skills and Personal Capabilities in KS3 Science - This workshop will examine hot TS&PC can be integrated into classroom activities.

Paul Wright, CCEA - Support for the teaching of Life and Health Sciences

Paddy Shevlin, (former ETI) - Science Leadership and Self Evaluation. The Heads of Science Cluster Group has been running for three years. Paddy and the cluster group will share effective strategies to raise attainment in departments.

Gill Humes, Deliberate - Differentiation - Let's take another look. This session will look at diagnostic questioning and effective strategies that work in a mixed ability classroom.

Frank Scullion, CCEA GCE Chemistry Chair of Examiners, Teaching Beyond the Classroom (use of online teaching platforms).

Mary Whitehouse, University of York /Chair of ASE - Good questions for 11-14 Physics Teaching - This workshop will look at how having good questions and tasks will support precise learning outcomes and monitoring pupil progress

Sentinus - Project based Learning - PBL is a dynamic approach in which students can actively explore real-world problems and challenges and acquire a deeper knowledge.

Fran Gale, Wellcome Genome Campus - Keeping up to date with advances in Genetics. The Wellcome Genome Campus in Cambridge is one of the world's foremost institutes in Genomics. Fran will introduce teachers to some of the organisations resources for supporting A Level Biology.

Collette Thompson - Developing Literacy in the Science Classroom - this practical session will offer suggestions on how to use literacy techniques to improve exam technique.

Declan Mc Geown, RSC, Teaching Organic Chemistry in Life and Health Sciences. The session will review resources, delivery and subject knowledge of organic chemistry in the core externally examined A2 Organic Chemistry module.

Declan Mc Geown RSC, Support with teaching A Level Practical Skills in Chemistry - a review of RSC resources to develop skills and support with the Practical examination.

Workshops for Technicians

Angie Ridout, Technician - STEM Clubs! STEM clubs are an asset to a school. They provide opportunities for technicians to show off their skills and pass on that passion for STEM subjects. This session will provide advice on setting up a STEM club as well as ideas and activities

Chris Peel, CLEAPSS - A ‘glass' act: A hands-on workshop that'll teach you glass manipulation skills that can be applied across all the sciences. The skills learned are both practical and fun and will involve glass bending, repairing glass equipment and drawing pipettes and more.

Drop-in and get the know-how: This drop-in session will be a chance for technicians to learn a bit more about the CCEA GCSE practical's such as advice on set-up, tips and tricks, networking and a chance to collect feedback for CCEA. Technician committee

Katherine Forsey, Gratnells Learning Room Expert - What's in my Tray?: this hands on carousel of practical activities returns to Northern Ireland by popular demand. Katherine has put together a new set of practical activities.

Alongside the sessions above there will be exhibitors from:
Data Harvest, Hodder, Practical Action, CCEA, Open University, Spa4schools, Timstar, W5, YPO, CLEAPPS, SciChem, CCEA, Oxford University Press and many more.

Click here for membership information.

  • £10 members, £30 early bird (before 31st March)
  • £50 (after 31st March)
    • This includes tea/coffee and lunch.

Register here

Any problems e mail the region field officer, Michelle Ryan.

CCEA A2 EEP Webinar A2 Chemistry

CCEA are holding a series of webinars for A2 Exemplification of Examination Performancefollowing the first full award of the revised A2 Level specification in Summer 2018.

This session will focus on A2 units of the Revised GCE Chemistry specification

Thursday 21 March, CCEA A2 EEP Webinar A2 Chemistry.

ASE Northern Ireland Conference 2019 Futureproofing Science Education

Friday 21st June, St Mary's University College, Belfast, 9.00am-3.30pm

Workshops for Post Primary Teachers

  • Kevin Henderson CCEA - Awarding Grades in GCSE Science
  • Pat Hanson, St Pius x College - Thinking Skills in Science
  • CCEA/RSC - Developing Thinking Skills and Personal Capabilities in KS3 Science
  • Paul Wright, CCEA - Support for the teaching of Life and Health Sciences
  • Paddy Shevlin, (former ETI) - Science Leadership and Self Evaluation
  • Gill Humes, Deliberate - Differentiation - Let's take another look
  • Frank Scullion, CCEA GCE Chemistry Chair of Examiners, Teaching Beyond the Classroom (use of online teaching platforms).
  • Mary Whitehouse, National Chair of the ASE - Assessment in Science / Physics
  • Sentinus - Project based Learning
  • Fran Gale, Wellcome Genome Campus - Keeping up to date with advances in Genetics.
  • Declan Mc Geown, RSC, Teaching Organic Chemistry in Life and Health Sciences.
  • Declan Mc Geown RSC, Support with teaching A Level Practical Skills in Chemistry

Alongside the sessions above there will be exhibitors from:
Data Harvest, Hodder, Practical Action, CCEA, Open University, Spa4schools, Timstar, W5, YPO, CLEAPPS, Dataharvest, SciChem, Colourpoint and many more.

Register now on Eventbrite to guarantee your place and take advantage of early bird prices.

Any problems e mail the region field officer

Studying Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths. Are you up for the STEM Quest Challenge?

As part of the NI Science Festival, Titanic Belfast and The Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA), are calling all whizz kids to get involved with its annual STEM Quest (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths challenge).

To date, over 170 teams from across Northern Ireland have competed, with Lumen Christi triumphing last year.

Titanic Belfast and CCEA are now on the lookout for this year's best science, technology, engineering and maths Key Stage 3 (1st - 3rd year) quiz teams of four to compete and test their knowledge against their peers from across the region, in a bid to become Northern Ireland's top team.

The teams will compete in a 'University Challenge style' Grand Final, hosted again by well-known personality, Joe Lindsay, at Titanic Belfast on 12th February 2019.

The closing date for entries for the STEM Quiz is 19th January 2019, spaces are limited and will be given on a first come first serve basis.

To enter visit

ASE Post Primary TeachMeet

St Dominic Grammar School, Belfast
Thursday 29th November 2018
- presentations will start at 4.15pm)
- Refreshments from 3.30pm (highly recommended!)

What is a TeachMeet?

A TeachMeet is an informal and enjoyable gathering of teachers looking to improve, develop and refresh their classroom practice. You can come along and be part of the audience, or you can give a short presentation - no pressure. It is all about being engaged and inspired by our colleagues and gaining lots of networking to boot!

There will be a free raffle between presentations ,and Annmarie has collected a wide range of prizes which include wine, hampers, family passes, books and vouchers from Timstar, Hodder, W5, Ulster Museum, NI Science Festival, Inspirewellbeing, Scientific Sue, Quizlet, CGP, Promethean, and Kinnegar Brewery.

Education Harbour has offered to provide a free pair of hologram glasses to all participants.

We would really love more presentations from teachers so would love to hear from new volunteers...

Presentations are 2 or 5minutes long; talk about a teaching resource you love, a great website, or a different approach you have taken. The topic does not need to be complicated just something which has worked for you - whatever you like!

What next?

If you would like to register sign up on Eventbrite or contact

If you would like to register as a presenter contact, she would love to hear from you!

Register now: ASE(NI) Post-Primary Teachmeet

GCE Chemistry - Exemplifying standards and support for new specification topics

Agenda: A support event for GCE Chemistry Heads of Departments and teachers focussing on the new topics of the specification such as medicinal chemistry and fuel cells and exemplifying A2 Grade A standards.

GCSE Chemistry and DAS Chemistry - Support for teaching the practical aspects of the specification

Agenda: Support for Chemistry teachers in setting up and teaching the prescribed practicals and other practical aspects within the GCSE Chemistry and DAS Chemistry specifications.

Past papers and Support Material from legacy Specifications

Please note that these materials from the legacy specifications are now available under the legacy materials tab under the Revised GCE tab for the new specification. The decision was made to avoid the wrong content been taught and to tidy up the micro-sites. Any queries please do not hesitate to contact us.

GCSE Chemistry Practical Assessment (Booklet A and Booklet B)
Repeat Support Event

  • Date: Friday 9th November 2018
  • Venue: Glenavon Hotel, Cookstown
  • Time: Registration from 09.30; Start: 10.00
  • Agenda: A repeat event for those teachers who could not attend last academic year focusing on supporting teachers with planning, setting up and delivering the practical aspects of the revised GCSE Chemistry Specification including the practical skills assessment Booklet A.

Booking your place now: GCSE Chemistry Practical Assessment
(Booklet A and Booklet B) Repeat Support Event

Support Event for Science Technicians (Belfast) -
Setting up the new GCSE Science Practical Assessments

  • Date: Tuesday 20th November 2018
  • Venue: Pavilion, Stormont, Belfast
  • Time: Registration from 12.30; Start: 13.00
  • Agenda: Support Event to support technicians who are new to setting up science practical exams - this event will cover all three science disciplines and will give helpful tips on how best to plan, set up and deliver the new GCSE science practical exams.

Booking your place now: Support Event for Science Technicians (Belfast)

Support Event for Science Technicians (Limavady) -
Setting up the new GCSE Science Practical Assessments

  • Date: Thursday 22nd November 2018
  • Venue: Roe Park, Limavady
  • Time: Registration from 09.30; Start: 10.00
  • Agenda: Support Event to support technicians who are new to setting up science practical exams - this event will cover all three science disciplines and will give helpful tips on how best to plan, set up and deliver the new GCSE science practical exams.

Booking your place now: Support Event for Science Technicians (Limavady)

Top CCEA GCE Chemistry student

The Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) Northern Ireland Committee visited CCEA to make a presentation to Emer Kennedy who was the top CCEA GCE Chemistry student in the summer 2017 series. Emer was a former student of Mount Lourdes Grammar School in Enniskillen and is now currently studying medicine. We wish her every success in her future career.

Top CCEA GCE Chemistry student
Pictured (left to right) are: Elaine Lennox (Subject Officer for Chemistry and Double Award Science, CCEA), Dermot Hanna (Treasurer for the Northern Ireland Committee, RSC), Trudy McMurray (Chairperson for the Northern Ireland Committee, RSC), Emer Kennedy (Top GCE Chemistry student from the summer 2017 series), Iris Suitor (Deputy Chairperson for the Northern Ireland Committee, RSC), Justin Edwards (Chief Executive, CCEA) and Declan McGeown (NI Education Coordinator, RSC).

You are invited to the following event:

Event to be held at the following time, date and location:
Wednesday, 3 October 2018 from 16:00 to 17:30 (BST)

Bloomfield Collegiate School
Astoria Gardens
BT5 6HW Belfast
United Kingdom

This exciting opportunity offers post-primary Heads of Science, primary World Around Us Co-ordinators, members of SLT, and aspiring leaders, the chance to network regularly with colleagues and to develop their leadership capacity to affect school improvement. This cluster group is led by Dr Paddy Shevlin, President of the Association for Science Education (NI) and recently retired ETI Inspector.

The focus of the first cluster meeting is:
Middle-managers, effectively linking self-evaluation and action planning, ensuring engagement and a minimum of paperwork.

Share this event on Facebook and Twitter.We hope you can make it.Best,The Association for Science Education.

Science Mark

Science Mark is a quality standard designed to recognise and celebrate inspiring practice in secondary and FE science departments across the UK.

Working with our dedicated team of assessors, we will support you through the process to achieve your Science Mark. There are three levels - silver, gold and platinum.

What are the benefits of taking part?

  • help raise the profile of science across your school or college;
  • demonstrate your department's commitment to quality standards in science education;
  • celebrate engaging, stimulating and inspiring lessons for students; and
  • receive a plaque, certificates, digital banners and at least a day and a half of support from an external expert.

For further information, please visit the STEM Learning website.

Upcoming June 2018 Events

Exam classes gone, reports written and now onto planning for the next academic year. We are running a few events to support you with what is left to be done.

ASENI Cluster Group for Heads and Aspiring Heads of Science
St Ronans College, Thursday, 21 June 2018 from 16:00 to 17:00


  1. Dr Paddy Shevlin's presentation 1) Review of year on use of self evaluation by the hod/coordinator - looking back/looking forward to next year, Use of data, What is "Outstanding "teaching and learning?
  2. Mrs Lynn Graham (Co-ordinator of Staff Development and STEM Ronan's College, Lurgan) on Accelerated learning Cycle.

Register now on Eventbrite

ASE (NI) Techmeet for Science Technicians
Abbey Christian Brothers' Grammar School | 77A Ashgrove Road | BT34 1QN Newry | United Kingdom
Monday, 25 June 2018 from 14:00 to 16:00 (BST)

Register now on Eventbrite

What next? Planning for the practical aspect of the GCSE Science (CCEA)
Campbell College | Belmont Rd | BT4 2ND Belfast | United Kingdom
Wednesday, 27 June 2018 from 16:00 to 17:00 (BST)

Register now on Eventbrite

Support with Planning /Developing SoW on Life and Health Sciences A Level (CCEA)

We are looking to set up a support group to share resources and ideas for this qualification. The group could be virtual if more convenient. If you are interested, please e-mail me on or alternatively send a tweet to @meshellryan with #LifeandHealth.

Receiving Email Communications about our Events

Please keep up to date with all our upcoming events by subscribing to our mailing lists. Please click on the link below to do so. This will only take a few minutes to complete and will ensure that you will receive all future correspondence for the subjects you are interested in.

Join Our Mailing List

Teach Meet

This is an informal gathering of technicians and people interested in the technical side of practical work. The event will be made up of some individuals who have offered to talk on something they do which they think would be of interest to the group and others who are there to listen. There will be a chance to win prizes between presentations. You do not need to be a member to attend but it would be great if you discussed with your school about becoming one! If you are interested in presenting please get in touch with Marie Guinness.

Date: Monday 25th June 2018, 2-4pm
Location: Abbey Christian Brothers' Grammar School, Newry
Register via Eventbrite or alternatively email the ASE Field Officer Michelle Ryan.

Exemplifying Examination Performance Webinar

CCEA recently published AS Exemplification of Examination Performance following the first full award of the revised AS Level specification in Summer 2017. You will find this PDF within the Support section of the subject microsite (under the EEP tab). We are holding this webinar to accompany the publication.

AS Chemistry Exemplification of Examination Performance (EEP) Webinar
15th March 12.45pm to 1.30pm - Units AS 1, AS 2 and AS 3 Booklet A and B

New Resources from the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)

New Resources available from the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) to support the teaching of the new GCSE and GCE Chemistry specifications.

Use these resources to support your teaching of CCEA's prescribed practical activities for GCSE. Introduce more variety with our series of alternative experiments that match with the prescribed practical requirements. This document also covers non-prescribed practicals. The link is Northern Ireland GCSE practical guide.

Mechanism Inspector
This site provides students of chemistry the opportunity to test themselves on their understanding by answering questions not only on the mechanisms themselves but on the underlying chemistry. It aims to:

  • help students to practice solving organic mechanism problems
  • build confidence in core knowledge to help solve problems
  • recognise evidence available to solve problems
  • challenge common misconceptions

Synthesis Explorer
Synthesis Explorer (SE) helps students study key organic chemistry reactions in order to understand and plan synthetic routes.

SE is split into two main sections:

  • Use "the planner" for displaying compounds and planning synthetic routes.
  • Use "the data panel" for displaying compound data, spectra and trends.

REDOX Online CPD This is a paid course (£50) however there is a 25% discount on this for LCP schools (£37.50).

After working through this course you will be able to:

  • understand the core ideas about redox;
  • explain how the conventions we use like oxidation number and electrode potentials work;
  • anticipate common misconceptions that arise and adapt your teaching to minimise these;
  • confidently deliver key experiments, demonstrations and activities that develop student understanding; and
  • access a wider range of activities and resources to support students' learning about redox reactions.

Download your course development plan to keep a record of your learning and development.

Upcoming Events will be available to book soon on Eventbrite

AS Chemistry (6th, 8th and 15th March)

An event for Heads of Chemistry and teachers of GCE Chemistry.

The purpose of the day:

  • Exemplification of Grade A standard for this specification for Units AS 1, AS 2 and AS 3
  • Training on Assessment Objectives and their weightings
  • Q+A session

GCSE Chemistry (6th and 9th February)

An event for Heads of Chemistry and teachers of GCSE Chemistry.

The purpose of the day:

  • Training on Assessment Objectives and their weightings
  • A discussion about the new grading system
  • Resources to support the specification
  • Training/Information on the new practical component
  • Glossary of Chemistry terms
  • Guidance on changes to question styles and marks awarded
  • Guidance on assessment of mathematical questions
  • Q+A session

Entry Codes Summer 2018

GCE Chemistry

GCSE Chemistry

ASE(NI) Cluster Group for Heads and Aspiring Heads of Science

Thursday, 25 January 2018 from 15:30 to 17:30 (GMT)
Saint Pius X College
59 Moneymore Road
BT45 6HQ Magherafelt
United Kingdom

This exciting opportunity offers post primary HODS, primary World around Us Co-ordinators, members of SLTs, or indeed aspiring members of SLTS, HODs or WAU coordinators the chance to network in an organised way with colleagues on a regular basis your skills to promote improvement in Science within your school, hosted and led by Dr. Paddy Shevlin, President ASE(NI) and recently retired from the Education and Training Inspectorate. This is a cross-phase post primary - primary cluster but focused on meeting both primary and post primary needs, as well as, eventually as a further goal, post primary-primary transition needs.

Presentation for second cluster meeting:

  1. Dr Paddy Shevlin will speak on "Self evaluation leading to improvement with minimum paper and maximum usefulness". Following on from his ASE leadership and management science workshop at the ASE biennial conference in June 2017 in St Marys University College. He will recap and further develop the ideas and working practices he outlined at this workshop
  2. Pat Hanson (St Pius X College) will speak on developing Literacy and Numeracy in Science.

The aims of the cluster group are:

  1. To facilitate ongoing networking between schools, focusing on pragmatic things to do re: improvement that involves no unnecessary added bureaucratic burden.
  2. Disseminate effective best practice in science
  3. Develop the use of self-evaluation leading to improvement - share among the cluster group best practice to do this. - link this to external self evaluation namely INSPECTION

If you are interested in attending please register here on Eventbrite:

ASE (NI) Cluster Group for Heads and Aspiring Heads of Science

or alternatively e mail

Michelle Ryan
ASE(NI) Field Officer
Promoting Excellence in Science Education

Qualifications Administration Handbook

Please refer to the link below for information and guidance on the administration of CCEA assessments and examinations (including examination entry codes).

Exams Officers Useful Links & Documents

Storage of Chemicals

In relation to recent media activity relating to the storage of 2,4 DNPH (dinitrophenylhydrazine) please see link to the CLEAPPS website.

HC030 - 2,4-dinitrophenylhydrazine

ENTHUSE bursaries - financial support for schools

State-funded schools and colleges are able to access ENTHUSE bursaries that contribute towards the cost of attending world-class professional development provided by STEM Learning.

To find out how to apply and if you are eligible, visit the STEM Learning website.

Royal Society of Chemistry Education Department

Could you inspire the next generation with your passion for chemistry?

Find out if you qualify for our Teacher Training Scholarships. You might be surprised.

Specialised support

As well as a £25,000 tax-free bursary, we support our Scholars throughout their Initial Teaching Training (ITT) course with free:

  • expert mentoring,
  • valuable networking opportunities,
  • CPD courses, and
  • classroom materials like books, posters and a lab coat.

Applications are now open

Please note: Our Scholarships are open to any chemistry teacher trainees training in England in 2016/2017.

Get more details and find out how you can apply
This link will open in a new window

Ofqual provokes government ire with decision to scrap science practicals

[Source: The Guardian] [Date added: 03/03/2015]
By Sally Weale

Relations between the government and the exams regulator Ofqual are said to have reached "rock bottom" in a row over controversial plans to scrap practical experiments from GCSE science exams. Education secretary Nicky Morgan was said to be "furious" after Ofqual decided to press ahead with the move, despite her highly public intervention earlier this year urging them to reconsider.

In a strongly worded speech at the Politeia thinktank in London in January, the secretary of state said she feared that dropping practical lab work from both A-level and GCSE assessments would harm the next generation of scientists. However, the regulator confirmed today that it would be dropping the practical element in GCSE science exams - as has already happened with A-levels - despite the reservations of Morgan and many in the scientific community.

Chief exam regulator Glenys Stacey said she believed Ofqual was "winning the argument" with its critics and denied there was any dispute with the education secretary.

"Nicky Morgan has asked us to have constructive conversations about the options, which we have been doing and continue to do. Like us, she's very concerned to make sure that students get a good experience of practical science. I've been grateful for her interest and had the opportunity to speak with her about these things. At the end of the day, there's a good amount of support for our propositions and there's no alternative proposition on the table."

A source within the Department for Education said Morgan was "deeply frustrated" by Ofqual. "We have to say we have been very unimpressed with the way Ofqual have handled this, and how long it has taken them to engage with the scientific community. Whilst we are pleased that they have made some concessions, if we see any evidence that this has an impact either on the use of science practicals in schools or takeup of science more generally, we will not hesitate to legislate in a future parliament."

The department is thought to be frustrated that it has no powers to override Ofqual, which was set up in 2010 as an independent regulator. It is understood that the disagreement over science practicals is just one of a number of issues, including concerns around marking, that have left the department frustrated with Ofqual.

Under the new arrangements, students will continue to do practical work in the lab at GCSE, but will be assessed using written exam questions in place of controlled assessment. In the past, there has been concern that it is too easy to score highly in the controlled assessments. Each school will have to keep a logbook to confirm that their pupils have had the opportunity to do the full range of practical work. The proposals have had support from science teachers.

But many prestigious scientific organisations, including the Wellcome Trust, the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and the Nuffield Foundation, have criticised the proposals. Hillary Lever, head of education and learning at the Wellcome Trust, said: "We are gravely disappointed that Ofqual is pushing ahead with untested proposals, which we fear could reduce the quality and quantity of practical work in schools. There is an opportunity to test the likely impacts of these changes by seeing how similar reforms affect science A-levels - and we will be monitoring any changes to A-level teaching in collaboration with the Gatsby Charitable Foundation and the Nuffield Foundation.

"Unfortunately, Ofqual has pushed on with its GCSE reforms despite concerns expressed across the education community, including from the secretary of state herself. Science qualifications should reflect students' skills and knowledge, including their ability to do practical work, but future GCSEs will simply reflect what students know about science, not what they can do. Ofqual has argued that written examinations can assess practical skills, but they have been unable to produce any evidence to support this claim."

A Department for Education spokesperson said: "Ensuring more young people continue to study science at A-level and university and go on to get jobs in Britain's thriving scientific sector is a vital part of our long-term economic plan. It is vital, therefore, that the qualification system supports practical science in schools [that] help make subjects come alive for pupils and can create a long-lasting love for the subject.

"It is crucial to see how checks will be established to ensure young people continue to undertake the range of scientific practicals that will be required in the new GCSEs, and we are pleased that Ofqual will be involving the scientific community in developing these arrangements."

STEM qualifications critical to the development of the economy - O'Dowd

[Source: DENI] [Date added: 03/03/2015]
Press Release

Speaking during a debate on the issue the Minister said: "I absolutely recognise the importance to our economy and society of having young people familiar with and qualified in STEM subjects.

"My Department is continuing to prioritise delivery of the STEM strategy. It is crucial that our education system continues to work in the best interests of our young people and that includes enabling them to take their place in the world of work, as employees and one day employers.

"Access to a broad and balanced curriculum is essential and that is what our statutory curriculum does, supported by the Entitlement Framework. But we need make no apology for giving special encouragement and support to the take-up of subjects which are economically relevant. I would encourage every young person who is considering a STEM career to look beyond the traditional boundaries of medicine, dentistry and veterinary science. Parents pay a vital role in encouraging their children to look beyond these well-worn pathways. Look for an exciting and rewarding career in engineering, or in digital technologies - two examples of vibrant sectors which will deliver much needed local talent to support and improve our economy."

Outlining how the Department promotes STEM within schools the Minister said: "The Department's front-line STEM delivery partner delivers programmes to more than 57,000 primary and post-primary pupils every year. The STEM module has been operating for some time and is unique on these islands. It's a mobile laboratory and workshop which provides an interactive workspace with interchangeable teaching resources to inspire young people through practical engagement using latest technologies. I am pleased that the numbers of our pupils sitting STEM subjects at exams is continuing to rise."

In conclusion the Minister said: "STEM has the power to inspire young people. Every child from primary level onwards has the opportunity to be inspired to develop an interest in STEM. The challenge for my Department, teachers, parents and business is to ensure that more young people than ever develop this interest and pursue and excel at STEM subjects."

Ofqual's GCSE science practical plans leave ministers 'deeply unimpressed'

Ofqual is going ahead with its controversial plan to stop practical work from contributing to overall science GCSE grades, despite strong opposition from government and much of the scientific community.

The exams watchdog insists that separating science practicals from high-stakes assessment will actually improve the variety and quality of hands-on science work in schools.

But the decision has placed the regulator on a collision course with education secretary Nicky Morgan, who warned that the plan, together with a similar scheme at A-level, was "in danger of holding back the next generation of scientists".

Ms Morgan has now written to Ofqual insisting that it should revisit the decision if it has a "detrimental effect". "I continue to share the concerns of many in the science community that not having an assessment of practicals as part of the GCSE risks undermining the teaching of practicals in schools," her letter says.

Last night a Department for Education source told TES that Ofqual's entire role was "under review". Ministers were "deeply unimpressed" and could legislate to overturn the move if they were in power after the election, the source added.

Ofqual said that four-fifths of respondents to its consultation supported the new arrangements, which will leave GCSE assessment concerning practical work confined to written exam questions.

The changes will come in when new science GCSEs are introduced for first teaching from September 2016.

The watchdog's chief regulator Glenys Stacey said: "We have consulted widely and have identified a new approach to the assessment of practical science that will liberate teachers to offer a wider variety of classroom experimentation and promote effective student progression to further study or employment."

Ofqual, which has yet to release the detailed consultation results, has also claimed "enormous support" from teachers for the changes, which will require science GCSE students to complete a minimum of eight different practical activities.

But several leading scientific organisations fear the result in many schools will be a downgrading of practical work and facilities. They include the Wellcome Trust, which did not respond to the consultation because it did not believe Ofqual would change its mind.

The charity's head of education Hilary Leevers said: "If you don't include a measure of pupils' ability to do science in a science GCSE, then it is not what I would really call a science GCSE. It is science knowledge or science theory or whatever you might want to call it. But to me so much of science is what you can do and that will not be reflected at all in the GCSEs."

TES understands that relations between Ofqual and the Department for Education, already poor after the watchdog's handling of a row over GCSE maths standards, have reached a new low.

The DfE source said: "We believe that Ofqual fulfils an important function but we keep their role under review. We have been deeply unimpressed with the way that Ofqual has handled this [GCSE science practicals]. If we get any indication that this move is having an impact on practical teaching or the uptake in science subjects then we won't hesitate to legislate in the next Parliament."

GCE Chemistry - Amendments to specification

Update to the online version of the GCE Chemistry specification

The structure and format of the AS 3 practical assessment was changed last year to enhance the security and reliability procedures. These changes were to be phased in for this cohort of candidates so it now follows that the same changes are required for the A2 3 practical assessment. Changes have been made to pages 6 and 33 to show that the A2 3 practical exam has been split into two booklets, the revised mark breakdown in each booklet, the time required to complete each booklet and that both booklets will now be externally assessed. The total time and marks haven't changed.

In addition, teacher feedback from the first cohort of candidates who sat the revised structure of the AS 3 practical assessment suggested that the time allocated to both booklets wasn't the best time split as candidates were under pressure to complete Practical Booklet A in 1 hour and they had finished the 1 hour 30 minute Practical Booklet B early. Hence, the time allocation should change to 1 hour 15 minutes for both Practical Booklets A and B. This follows the timing of the A2 3 practical assessments and doesn't change the overall time allocation. Changes have been made to page 5 of the specification to reflect this information.

These amendments are being progressed through the internal amendments post accreditation procedure.

Hay Levels - Free Internet mini-lectures

Please find a very useful teaching resource to stimulate interest and deeper thinking in science - a new series of free Internet mini-lectures, titled the Hay Levels.

A key feature of these talks is that none of them lasts more than five minutes, and all of them are delivered by internationally renowned experts. What's more, they are aimed not at university professors but at A-level students. As well as thoughts delivered from great academic heights, the Hay Levels include some down-to-earth tips on exam technique. Altogether some 100 micro-lectures are being made, with the help of 50 academics.

The aim of the Hay Levels is to stimulate the teenagers of today into making the beneficial scientific breakthroughs of tomorrow.

Examination Questions Glossary

A glossary of command words used in CCEA GCE Chemistry Examination Questions has now been added to the GCE Chemistry microsite under 'Support Materials'. The document is entitled 'Command Words'. It is designed to support both teachers and candidates in their preparation for GCE Chemistry examinations using past paper questions.

New Marking Grid

An amended teacher marking grid has been added to this microsite for use only with the Planning and Risk Assessment sections of the GCSE Chemistry and GCSE Double Award Chemistry Controlled Assessment Task 2 (qualitative task) for the 2012-2014 cohort.

Follow the link to access the document entitled GCSE Chemistry and DA Chemistry 2012-14 CAT 2 Candidate Response Booklet A markgrid.

GCE AS & A2 Chemsitry 'Clarification of Terms

A further change has been made to the GCE AS & A2 Chemsitry 'Clarification of terms2 documents. The change has been made for the concept of 'Feasible/Spontaneous' (4.2.2 on page 8).

GCE AS & A2 Chemistry

A minor amendment has been made to the "Clarification of terms in CCEA GCE Chemistry" document. The change affects the definition for Coordinate (Dative) bond (1.3.8) on page 3. Changes made are in red.