"No it's not. It's what some management person somewhere high in bureucracy thinks 'basic skillset' is, usually created by people knowing nothing at all about the whole sector themselves."
I have been doing a bit of maths and physics tuition since retirement. I actually think the maths GCSE is pretty good.
But the physics A level and the A level mechanics, in my view, stink. They look like something thought up by shaking a load of elderly physicists in a bag and then trying to dumb down the result to A level standards. The mechanics paper, in particular, consists of variations on a few very artificial situations for which the method of solution can simply be drummed in. The physics paper treats particle physics as a form of accountancy and manages to make it at once opaque and boring.
There are numerous reasons for this, one of which is poor school funding, but I think another is that the exam boards have to rely on the available talent pool, and try and make sense of what it tells them. If physicists had a better overall grasp of their subject and its history rather than knowing an awful lot about their own speciality, things might be better (they were in the 1960s, for instance). But the day of the generalist is pretty dead. For instance, a few years ago (and I am not making this up) I came across a retired professor of semiconductor physics who did not realise that a positron is not a hole, because he had never done any nuclear physics.