Law newsletter (issue 1)

Thursday 27 Feb 2014

Why a newsletter?

In response to feedback from teachers, we are going to produce a termly newsletter to draw your attention to important issues relevant to GCSE and A-level Law. If there are any issues that you would like to see in the newsletter, please do not hesitate to contact the subject team on 01483 477 750 or email 

Our spring 2014 newsletter includes information on:

  • Italics in question papers
  • Important feedback from the summer 2013 series
  • New procedures for allocation of triable either way offences
  • GCSE Law mark bands
  • Updated resources are on their way
  • Teacher CPD training courses
  • HE attitudes to A-level Law
  • Specification reform
  • Final timetable for June 2014 


Please note that italics will no longer be used in either GCSE or A-level Law question papers from the summer 2014 series. This decision has been taken in the interests of improving accessibility for visually-impaired students and applies to all AQA papers. We aim to provide reliable assessments which are accessible to all students, so where we can see ways to improve accessibility, we will make appropriate changes.

Italicised words within question papers have been shown to be particularly difficult for students with visual impairments, so for the June 2014 exams onwards, words that might have been italicised in the past will either be printed within single quotation marks, or simply printed in non-italic type. 

Important feedback from the summer 2013 series

Have you looked at the Reports on the Examination from the 2013 series? They provide feedback which you will find useful in preparing for the summer 2014 series. The law is continually changing and often mistakes are made by students who cite out-of-date law: credit will be given for such answers for one exam series only, following a change in the law. 

The Reports on the Examination provide useful feedback on where such errors have been commonly made, and (for example) the June 2013 Report for LAW02 contains information on updated financial track limits.

You can find the reports under Secure Key Materials on e-AQA, the secure part of our website. You need a password to get into it, so ask your Exams Officer if you don't already know it. 

New procedures for allocation of triable either way offences

The following relates to both GCSE and A-level and arises from the Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Rules 2011.

Following the initial indication of plea:

  • if the plea is 'guilty', there is effectively no change. Magistrates will consider sentence and retain the right to commit for sentence to the Crown Court.
  • if the plea is 'not guilty', the court is informed of previous convictions and the magistrates will then consider the venue in the light of the facts of the case plus previous convictions. If they decide that summary trial is suitable, the defendant is still entitled to elect Crown Court trial. If he accepts summary trial, the power to commit to the Crown Court no longer exists. If the magistrates decide that the case is too serious for summary trial, the defendant's case will be sent for trial to the Crown Court forthwith. Committal proceedings are thereby abolished. 

GCSE Law mark bands

The mark bands for 4- and 5-mark questions on Unit 1 (41601) will revert to those indicated on the specimen exam materials from the summer 2014 series. This will help differentiate better between student answers.  

Updated resources are on their way

We're in the process of refreshing some of the Teacher Resource Bank materials on the website, for both GCSE and A-level. More news in the summer newsletter, but keep checking the website as they will be posted there as soon as they're ready. 

Teacher CPD training courses

For GCSE Law, we floated the idea of a 'Focus on feedback' course for which we invited you to register interest: we're delighted that enough teachers have expressed interest for us to run the course (live online training), and it's going to happen in April 2014. It's the first time for a while that we've run training for GCSE Law, so don't miss out.

A programme of face-to-face courses is available for all topics of A-level Law. They have been well received by teachers who have attended them to date. 

Book online now or contact the Teacher Professional Development (CPD) team at or on 0203 671 8014.  

HE attitudes to A-level Law

We're very aware that there is a perception that studying A-level Law could be a disadvantage to students applying to university and we're trying to gather information to counter that perception. We hope to have more about this in the summer newsletter.  

Specification reform

We haven't yet got a firm timetable for when A-level and GCSE Law will be redeveloped. At the moment, it looks likely that A-level will be reformed for first teaching in September 2017. You can check on the latest information at any time on our website by going to our home page and clicking on the links called 'Changes to A-levels' and 'Changes to GCSEs', which are updated every time there is any news.  

Final exam timetable for June 2014

The final timetable for the summer 2014 series is now available.  

Any questions?

We are here to support our teachers and if you have any questions, or suggestions for what you would like to see in the newsletter, please contact the subject team on 01483 477 750 or email us at

Download the PDF version of our spring newsletter (issue 1) for GCSE and A-level Law