A suite of GCSE science courses developed in partnership with the University of York

The pilot

tern in flight

Pilot schools

The Twenty First Century Science pilot started in September 2003. It was run OCR (the awarding body) in close collaboration with the Project Team which provided most of the support for pilot schools.

OCR had an enthusiastic response from a great many schools wanting to join the pilot. Usually only 50 schools are allowed to take part, but on this occasion QCA (now QCDA) agreed to raise that figure to about 80. The first cohort of students took their final GCSE exams in June 2005 at the end of their two-year GCSE courses. See pilot school experiences for how they got on.

Twenty First Century Science for all

Since September 2006 when the new GCSE specifications started, all schools have been able to offer the course.


This whole project began because the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA – now QCDA) was asked by the government to explore ways to modernise the science curriculum. This was in response to the many criticisms from young people, teachers, employers and others that the National Curriculum at the time was failing in important ways.

The role of OCR

QCA commissioned OCR, to develop the specifications for the three pilot GCSE courses. OCR examiners worked closely with the Project Team to make this happen. Drawing on the lessons of the pilot, OCR revised the specifications for September 2006. See our guide to OCR website for links to the current specifications.

The role of the project

The Twenty First Century Science Project Team has taken a leading role in this initiative from the start. The team supports schools that have adopted the new courses.


The pilot was a test of our model for the Key Stage 4 curriculum. The pilot evaluation provides evidence of the effects of the pilot course on classroom practices and on students’ attitudes and learning.