Level 1/ Level 2 certificates

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(in academic subjects)
Countries
  • England
  • Wales
  • Northern Ireland
Purpose

Level 1 / Level 2 certificates were designed to provide an alternative to GCSEs.

The purpose is to provide a qualification of the same size and level as GCSE which does not require controlled assessment and which has a linear structure and assessment by terminal examination.

The curriculum and assessment arrangements of Level 1 / Level 2 Certificates were based on those of IGCSEs and international GCSEs.

Education context

Level 1/ Level 2 certificates in academic subjects have been accredited for use in UK state schools since first teaching in 2012.  

The curriculum content of Level 1 / Level 2 certificates does not have to contain all the content of the National Curriculum in England for subjects for which it is relevant.

They have contributed to performance measures in England from 2014 and can contribute to the EBacc.

Contribution to performance measures in England will be phased out from 2016 – 2018 once the first awards on the revised 9 – 1 GCSEs are made.

Funding for use in state schools in England will be withdrawn in line with the timetable for introducing revised 9 – 1 GCSEs, with the exception of Cambridge International qualifications.

Funding for the Cambridge International Level 1 / Level 2 certificates will continue until such time as Cambridge decides to to take off the Register of Regulated Qualifications.

Schools will be able to continue to offer Level 1 / Level 2 certificates.

Cambridge International Level 1 / Level 2 Certificates incorporate key features of Cambridge IGCSE qualifications.

Pearson Level 1 / Level 2 Certificate qualifications incorporate key features of Pearson International GCSE qualifications.

Awarding organisations
  • AQA
  • CCEA
  • Cambridge International Examinations
  • WJEC
Structure

The qualifications are characterised by a linear structure with assessment by terminal examination.

Subject areas
  • English first language
  • English literature
  • English second language
  • Mathematics
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Chinese (Mandarin)
  • French – foreign language
  • German – foreign language
  • Greek – foreign language
  • Hindi as a second language
  • Italian – foreign language
  • Latin (language, literature and Roman civilisation)
  • Spanish – foreign language
  • Geography
  • History
  • Art and design
  • Business studies
  • Enterprise
  • Information and communications technology
  • Music
  • Computer science
Levels

In line with GCSEs the qualifications span both Levels 1 and 2 of the Qualifications Frameworks in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Grading

In line with GCSEs the qualifications span both Levels 1 and 2 of the Qualifications Frameworks in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

From their introduction in 2011 until examination in 2017 Level 1 / Level 2 certificates were graded A* – G in line with GCSEs.

For examination in 2017 onwards WJEC has developed a Level 1 and 2 Certificate in Latin, graded 9 – 1.

For examination in 2017 onwards, Cambridge has developed Cambridge International Level 1 / Level 2 Certificates graded 9 – 1 in the following subjects:

  • First language english
  • English literature
  • Mathematics
Assessment

Unlike GCSEs, there are no prescribed assessment arrangements for Level 1 / Level 2 certificates.

Ofqual requires them to meet only their general conditions which all qualifications have to meet.

Level 1 / Level 2 certificates are generally characterised by a terminal assessment at the end of two years, which can include oral, written or practical tasks.

Contribution of assessment components to overall grade

Only the terminal assessment contributes to the final grade.

The only exception may be a coursework assessment in English language.

Within the terminal assessment, the contribution of components varies between subjects.

Resit arrangements

The full qualification can be retaken from the next available assessment opportunity.

Guided/notional learning hours notes

The qualifications are deemed to be the same size as GCSEs.

The actual amount of time allocated to the qualifications varies between schools and subjects. However, the standard size is deemed to be 120 guided learning hours.

UCAS size bands

Not yet available.

UCAS grade bands

Not yet available.

Key issues for UK HE admissions

A significant number of students progressing to university, at least until 2019, will offer Level 1 / Level 2 certificates, particularly in the core subjects of English, mathematics and science.

Until 2017 achievement in all subjects will be presented as A* – G in line with GCSE.

From 2019 onwards achievement in English language, English literature, mathematics for Cambridge International Level 1 / Level 2 certificates will be presented as 9 – 1, in line with GCSEs in these subjects.

From 2019 onwards WJEC Latin will be presented as grades 9 – 1.

Unlike GCSEs, there are no prescribed assessment arrangements for Level 1 / Level 2 certificates; provided they meet Ofqual’s general conditions, arrangements may vary between awarding bodies.

The number of applicants offering Level 1 / Level 2 certificates is expected to decrease significantly from examination in 2017 onwards and these applicants are expected to come mainly from the independent sector.

Timing of assessments/results for learners

All awarding bodies offer assessment in June with results in August.

Two awarding bodies offer assessment opportunities in November and January respectively, with results two months later.

Qualification dates notes

At least two awarding bodies currently offering Level 1 / Level 2 certificates will cease to do so following the 2016 examination series. This will not include Cambridge International Examinations.

Reporting and certification information

Grade descriptions by subject and total entries by subject are published by the Joint Council for Qualifications www.jcq.org.uk.

Progression information

Sufficient Level 2 achievement enables progression to Level 3. Sufficient Level 1 achievement should lead to Level 2 progression.

Some HEPs and employers ask for specific achievement at Level 2 for recruitment.

The required achievement in Level 2 certificates is expected to be the same as that required at GCSE.

Until 2016 Level 1 / Level 2 certificates in a range of subjects were offered by AQA, CCEA, CIE, Pearson (known as Edexcel certificates), and WJEC. 

From examination in 2016 to examination in 2018, in line with the timetable for the introduction of revised GCSEs, AQA and Pearson will phase out Level 1 and 2 certificates.

New Cambridge International Level 1 / Level 2 certificate syllabuses, graded 9 – 1, for First language English, English literature and Mathematics will be first examined in June 2017. These syllabuses are regulated and funded for use in state sector schools (up to Year 11) but will not count towards the performance tables.