You can now read Gove’s ideas on the new GCSE on the DfE website. The critical passage is this one:
The content of the History GCSE is intended to support students in learning more about the history of Britain and the wider world. It should inspire students to deepen their historical understanding, think critically, weigh evidence, sift arguments, make informed decisions, and develop perspective and judgement. We are not consulting on the content of Ancient History GCSE at this stage, as this particular GCSE will not be reformed for first teaching until 2016.
In developing subject content and assessment objectives for history, a key consideration has been how best to ensure that the GCSE prepares students for further study by having opportunities to hone essential skills, knowledge and understanding in areas which do not lend themselves to assessment through written examinations. For example, one option we have considered but have not included in the proposed content is to include in the new subject content and assessment objectives a requirement that students undertake a historical investigation that gives them the opportunity to conduct independent research into a historical issue, event or process of their choosing resulting in an extended essay. The intention would be that such an investigation would allow students to demonstrate their ability to research and critically evaluate sources and deploy relevant evidence to support a structured analysis and argument. While we would not envisage that such an investigation would form part of the overall assessment or awarding of GCSE Grade, its successful completion would be reported. We recognise that there are regulatory and assessment issues as well as curriculum matters to consider in taking this option forward and we wish to explore this further through the consultation and in discussion with Ofqual.