We are pleased to say that there will be a SNAB course/specification for first teaching from 2015.
The subject criteria for A level were signed off by the DfE in February 2014 and they remain virtually unchanged in comparison to the current criteria. Three statements have been moved from A to AS (two of these statements were moved from AS to A2 for 2008!). One statement has been reworded: ‘Organisms usually consist of one or more cells’ becomes ‘The cell theory is a unifying concept in biology’. There is one new statement: ‘The genome is regulated by a number of factors’.
These changes with only mean minor modifications are required to the current SNAB. Although, we have taken the opportunity to make some slight adjustments either to update where the science has moved forward or to clarify statements where feedback indicated that this would be beneficial. All the resources are being revised in the light of the changes. As soon as the specification is finalized we will be able to provide a comparison document matching the new and old specification statements.
The Smith Report which reviewed all A level subjects recommended minimum weightings for assessment of mathematical skills in science A level, with 10 per cent for A level Biology at level 2 or above. This will impact all A level Biology courses. In SNAB these requirements will be incorporated into the resources to ensure that students have the opportunity to develop the necessary skills as they progress through the course.
As you are probably aware the most significant change to all biology (and other science courses) will be the changes to assessment of practical skills. Assessed coursework will not contribute to the A level grade. All Awarding Organisations will have to incorporate ‘Core Practicals’ within their specifications with assessment of knowledge of ‘Working Scientifically’ within the written papers – as we already have within SNAB. In addition to this indirect assessment of practical skills which contributes to the A level grade there will be direct assessment of practical skills with an endorsement for this assessment reported alongside the A level grade. The details of how this will be assessed and reported have not been finalized. We are working to ensure that the method adopted continues to be effective in developing students’ skills in a way that is of value and does not have an assessment method that overburdens teachers. We will let you know as soon as more detail is available.