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As from this September, and for the first time ever, boys and girls in Gibraltar will have identical options presented to them as they choose the subjects they will take for GCSE.

In order to meet the Government’s vision for Education in Gibraltar, the Department of Education has announced changes to the Key Stage 4 (KS4) programme of study which will come into effect in September.

There will now be equity in the opportunities afforded to students when choosing their options at KS4. The Department of Education has worked closely with both secondary schools’ senior leadership teams in achieving this fundamental aim of achieving equity at KS4 by September. The deadline of the academic year 2021/2022 was a critical time frame as the current Year 9 cohort of students in our secondary schools is the first fully coeducational cohort and it was a curriculum priority to ensure equity in opportunities for these young people.

This is the first time that both our secondary schools will provide young people across both schools withanequalofferingofcourses. Therehavebeenhistoriccurriculumimbalanceswithrespectto the subjects and qualifications offered at each of the two secondary schools with respect to the qualifications offered at Level 2 (GCSE or equivalent). The Government feels that these changes were long overdue, and the significant move to coeducation has enabled the necessary curriculum changes to be effected in a phased approach as the first coeducational cohort has moved up through the secondary schools.

The changes will be rolled out for this September will result in both schools delivering Child Development, Certificate of Personal Effectiveness, Dance, Design Technology and Sociology at KS4. These were subjects that were previously on offer at only one of the two schools and had not been available for students of both schools.

The Department of Education is exploring an exciting vocational route in Fashion and Textile Design to replace the outgoing Art and Design (Textiles) offering. This new vocational route, envisaged to be implemented in September 2022, will join the new Hair & Beauty and Digital Technologies vocational qualifications currently offered by the schools. These further curriculum developments highlight the Government’s continuing commitment to introduce vocational qualifications in schools.

Additionally, and as part of the ongoing curriculum development, both Secondary Schools will be offering a GCSE in Computer Science in September 2021 as part of the KS4 programme of study. This will offer students two equally valuable pathways to develop their digital skills. Students can opt to embark on the vocational Digital Technologies qualification or they can pursue the more academic GCSE in Computer Science. These two qualification pathways will help to fill a much needed skills gap identified by local and international industries.

The Department of Education is continuing to work on the development of an access curriculum for those students in KS4 who may, for differing reasons, struggle to access the full range of Level 2 qualifications offered in our secondary schools. It is envisaged that this access curriculum will allow students to develop and achieve certification for critical skills alongside their Level 2 choices. This offering will allow students to fulfil their potential in our schools and will ultimately be to the benefit of our community which will stand to gain from a more competent future workforce who will feel more confident in their own abilities and who will be able to contribute more effectively to our society.

Minister for Education, John Cortes commented: “This is a really significant step in the history of Education in Gibraltar. For the first time ever, all our children will have exactly the same opportunities offered to them at this critical stage in their Education. Up to now, for example, a boy was not able to do a GCSE in Dance and a girl would not have been able to do a GCSE in Design Technology. That was clearly not an acceptable situation. The equalisation of opportunity and the expansion of vocational alternatives available to our young people are key to our Education policy, which continues to progress, with much more to come in the future”.

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