Tuesday 19 June 2012

A-Levels are Changing

A-Levels are changing, there is no doubt about that.

Education Secretary Michael Gove began the process by consulting universities earlier this year, asking how they could become more involved in setting of the exams and the curriculum. Those consultations received a mixed reaction from teachers and teaching unions.

The Russell Group of leading universities has provided some more food for thought today. With a particular emphasis on maths A-Level, they say that some of the modules are simply not challenging enough and do not prepare students for a university degree in maths, physics or engineering.

Indeed, the Russell Group thinks that A-Level studies should be less dependent on the current modular system and more focused on a final examination. They describe A-Level modules as 'bite-sized chunks' which are too easily forgotten.

Another recommendation is that the number of times a candidate can resit any module should be limited, perhaps to one resit. Currently, a candidate can resit a module indefinitely.

Finally, the future of the AS is to be considered. The Russell Group did not express any clear views on its future, but the options are for it to be scrapped completely, given its own status as a stand-alone qualification (i.e. not a stepping stone to an A-Level) or the status quo.

All of these points will be considered by Ofqual, the exams regulator, as it begins drafting a report to be released later on this year. By then, we will know how radically different our A-Levels will look in the next few years.

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