A level reform will cause chaos, warns head

The Times is reporting that a headmasters’ leader has claimed A-level reforms could confuse teenagers and their parents for several years because of the way they are being introduced in stages…

Richard Harman – the chairman of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference and head at Uppingham School – has criticised the way the new A levels are being implemented and suggested redesigned GCSEs should have been put in place before new A levels were introduced.

Because different subjects are having new A levels introduced at different times over the coming years, many students embarking on A level courses in September will, he says, study a mixture of old and new, some of which will have AS levels after a year while others will have linear exams after two years.

Mr Harman is quoted:

“The A level changes mean that we have got to re-train ourselves to teach linearity rather than modularity and it has got to be done over time and at different paces for different subjects. There is a danger that is quite confusing for parents, particularly, and pupils.

“For two or three years at least there is going to be a mixed economy in many schools. We are all giving a lot of thought to how we try to explain it to people and take people through that, not only for parents and pupils, but also for universities.”

More at: A level reform will cause chaos, warns head (subscription may be required)


Does Mr Harman make a valid point here?

Would it have made more sense to revise all GCSEs first and only when they were in place (and presumably worked through by the first cohort), introduce the revised A levels all together?

What do you think and what impact do you think the ‘mixed economy’ that he describes will have on students?

Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…


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Categories: Private Schools and Secondary.


  1. katiehall1979

    SchoolsImprove experience of explaining diff sub requirements suggests that explaining that geog is on diff system to hist will be v tricky

  2. Gove was warned his exam reforms were hasty, ill-thought out and pushed through with an impossible timetables.  He said his reforms would bring England in line with successful education systems but most countries in the developed world do not have high-stakes exams at 16 but graduation at 18.
    But Gove was determined to show he was imposing ‘rigour’.  He, and ministers like him, should beware of hubris.

  3. Dai_James1942

    SchoolsImprove wave of reform in 80s reached GCSE criteria (tho not GCSE) but never reached A L, wh remains in Stone Age.

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