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Pearson has been the parent company of the awarding organisation Edexcel since 2003. In 2010, the legal name of the Edexcel awarding organisation became Pearson Education Limited (Pearson) and from April 2013, the awarding organisation listing on the Register for Regulated Qualifications changed from Edexcel to Pearson. It is one of England, Wales and Northern Ireland's five main examination boards, and is part of Pearson PLC. The company offers a variety of qualifications, including A levels (GCEs), GCSEs and the BTEC suite of vocational qualifications. It also offers work-based learning qualifications - including BTEC Apprenticeships and NVQs - via Pearson Work Based Learning. For information on Pearson Work Based Learning employability learner programmes please visit: http://uk.pearson.com/employability.html The company operates internationally, awarding over 1.5 million certificates to students around the world every year. It ran the marking of the UK National Curriculum assessments until 2008 when ETS Europe was given the contract. Following the 2008 marking debacle, ETS Europe was stripped of its contract and Edexcel was awarded a contract to re-mark disputed test papers. Edexcel was then re-hired to run the assessments from 2009. Its main competitors are AQA and OCR.
Edexcel was formed in 1996 by the merger of two bodies, the BTEC (Business & Technology Education Council) and ULEAC (University of London Examinations and Assessment Council). In 2003, the Edexcel Foundation (the charity which managed the board) formed a partnership with Pearson PLC to set up a new company called London Qualifications Ltd, which was 75% owned by Pearson and 25% by the Edexcel Foundation. London Qualifications Limited changed its name to Edexcel Limited in November 2004.
In 2005, Edexcel became the only large examination board to be held in private hands, when Pearson PLC took complete control. Edexcel subsequently received investment from their new parent company.
In 2003, it introduced an onscreen marking system, ePen, which Edexcel claims has brought dramatic benefits. ePen has produced student performance data, at question level, which Edexcel has made available to schools through its Results Analysis Service (RAS) and which forms the basis of a new service available to schools and students - ResultsPlus.
In the 2011-12 academic year, Edexcel marked and delivered more than 3.8 million test scripts for over half a million pupils in six weeks for the National Curriculum Tests at Key Stage 2. They also marked more than 5.7 million academic scripts (Edexcel GCSE, Edexcel GCE A level and Edexcel Diploma), with 90% marked onscreen. The vocational qualifications, such as BTECs, are recognised in more than 80 countries worldwide. In 2011-12, over 2 million learners registered for BTECs and other vocational qualifications, including 650,000 school students taking BTEC Firsts and Nationals.
In 2010, the legal name of the Edexcel awarding organisation became Pearson Education Limited (Pearson) and from April 2013, the awarding organisation listing on the Register for Regulated Qualifications changed from Edexcel to Pearson.
In 2013, Edexcel formed IAL, also known as International A-Levels. Offered only outside the UK. 
Diploma in digital applications
Edexcel's modernisation has led to the development of a suite of four new 'paperless' qualifications:
- AiDA (Award in Digital Applications, equivalent to one GCSE)
- CiDA (Certificate in Digital Applications, equivalent to two GCSEs)
- CiDA+ (Extended Certificate in Digital Applications, equivalent to three GCSEs)
- DiDA (Diploma in Digital Applications, equivalent to four GCSEs)
These 'paperless' qualifications are primarily designed to redress the perceived imbalance between those skills learnt in the classroom and the resulting application in the workplace. The new qualifications are designed to develop more practical skills while promoting independent learning and colour-coding skills.
BTECs are vocational/work-related qualifications that are exclusively offered by Edexcel. BTECs range from Entry Level to Level 8 (postgraduate level) on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF), offering a progression route across all levels, starting with BTEC Firsts and Nationals as GCSE and A level equivalents. They are developed in consultation with industry and professionals, with the aim of being relevant, progressive and recognised by professional bodies, employers and universities.
They are a growing qualification in schools and are said to have high acceptance by employers. In 2005/06, 260,000 students studied BTECs at college; 63,000 studied BTECs in schools; 23,000 studied BTECs at university; and 14,000 employees studied a BTEC while at work.
BTECs provide a more practical, real-world approach to learning and skills development alongside a key theoretical background.
Edexcel is currently in the process of realigning BTEC programmes (Levels 2, 3, 4 and 5) to the new Qualifications & Credit Framework (QCF), ready for teaching in schools and colleges from September 2010. The revised versions will include smaller sized BTEC qualifications to provide QCF-accredited and funded Additional Specialist Learning (ASL) to go alongside the new Diplomas, GCSEs, GCEs, NVQs and Apprenticeships. The realigned qualifications will also provide students with excellent opportunities to develop Personal, Learning and Thinking Skills (PLTS).
Edexcel offers a large number of GCSE courses. Many subjects are modular, meaning they can be taken at any exam point in the course. For example, in GCSE Religious Studies, candidates can take Paper 1 at the end of year one of study (normally Year 10) and Paper 2 at the end of year two of study. Edexcel also offers non-coursework options on most courses, with increased examination in areas. Edexcel in 2006 revised its GCSE Science courses following the QCDA new criteria - this saw more emphasis on How Science Works and has now incorporated more practical examination, some of which takes place in the classroom. Edexcel also offers a new two-tier Mathematics course, which led to the creation of a popular Modular Course.
In 2006, Edexcel created a new science course, consisting of six multiple choice exams, twelve modules and a practical. It is named Edexcel360 Science. In 2011, this was superseded by a new GCSE Science course.
At GCSE, Edexcel offers both Modular and Linear courses in Mathematics. Many centres favour the Modular course as it is considered to put less stress on students, whilst maximising their potential for success in the subject. Unit 1 is entitled 'Data Handling' and makes up 20% of the aggregate GCSE grade. Unit 2 is entitled 'Number' and makes 30% of the GCSE grade. Unit 3 creates the final 50% of the grade and is entitled 'Algebra'.
Available in over 40 subjects, Edexcel also offers a broad range of International GCSEs, which prepare students for academic and vocational study at level 3, including progression to GCE AS or A levels, BTECs or employment.
All subjects are linear, which means that candidates are assessed by exam at the end of their course. There is no coursework involved in the International GCSE. They are recognised as equivalent, grade for grade, to a GCSE and have the same status in terms of university entry requirements.
These GCSEs are popular with international centres wishing to study a syllabus similar to the English curriculum and are also popular with independent schools in the UK. Many International GCSEs have a distinct international element with content more relevant to students worldwide.
Edexcel International GCSE subjects offered include:
- Art and Design
- Business & Economics
- Information and Communication Technology
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- "UK | Education | Exam board to help sort out Sats". BBC News. 2008-08-27. Retrieved 2013-09-28.
- "UK | Education | Sats tests 'face delays in 2009'". BBC News. 2008-12-31. Retrieved 2013-09-28.
- "10 millionth script scanned and digitised for online marking". Resultsplus.edexcel.org.uk. Retrieved 2013-12-30.