Four subjects suddenly dropped as headteachers criticise government’s ‘chaotic’ overhaul of A-levels

The Guardian is reporting complaints about “last-minute, piecemeal” changes to A-levels after four subjects were suddenly scrapped and other courses delayed…

After Monday’s announcement that the introduction of the reformed AS and A-levels in mathematics and further mathematics would be put back a year to 2017, it emerged that the new chemistry A-level, which was due to be taught from next September, has yet to be accredited.

The exam regulator Ofqual said it would be scrapping AS and A-levels in applied art and design, applied business, human biology, and economics and business, thus reducing curriculum breadth that schools can offer. GCSE digital communication is also to be withdrawn.

New A-levels due to be taught from 2015 should have been accredited by September to give schools at least a year to get to grips with teaching the new course.

“It’s chaotic,” said one headteacher. “I wake up every morning and wonder what’s coming next.”

The AQA A-level English Literature syllabus – the market leader – is also yet to be approved by Ofqual.

One of the examining boards, OCR, confirmed that none of the awarding bodies had yet had their new chemistry A-level accredited…

The AQA exam board said their new A-level in English Literature, which is also due to be taught from next September, had still not been accredited because of disagreements over set texts.

A spokesman said: “Great international works of literature like All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque and A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen are very popular with teachers and students and we want to include them as translated texts in our A-level English Literature syllabus. We have been having a dialogue with Ofqual about this and hope to have confirmation in the next day or so.”…

An Ofqual spokesman said: “Reformed GCSE, AS and A-level qualifications must meet required clear standards so that those using them can trust them and know that they add value. We will not compromise on those standards. So far, 92 out of 124 GCSE, AS and A-level qualifications that have been presented to us have been accredited.

“We recognise that teachers would like sight of the reformed qualification specifications as soon as possible and we will continue to accredit qualifications as soon as they meet the required standards. The responsibility sits firmly with the exam boards to submit qualifications that meet our requirements.

“We set up the process for accrediting the reformed qualifications so that there was enough time to enable its timely completion and to allow enough time for necessary work post accreditation. We ensure swift, full and clear feedback on rejected submissions…”

More at: Headteachers criticise government’s ‘chaotic’ overhaul of A-levels


If you teach A level or lead a school that does, please let us know how much impact this is having for you and your colleagues? Is it actually a real practical issue yet or is there still time to get everything in place for next September? And what of Ofqual’s apparent suggestion that any delays are the responsibility of the exam boards? Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…


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  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove The DfE and Ofqual are hardly covering themselves in glory over this, but why change the habit of a lifetime?

  2. rhcaseby

    SchoolsImprove “We set up the process…so that there was enough time to enable its timely completion” The evidence suggests not!

  3. Nor_edu

    SchoolsImprove I enjoyed teaching digi comm – big problem was people trying to push it as a new alternative to English (which it’s not)

  4. Janet2

    Gove’s rushed exam reforms were bound to end in tears.  They’ve been rushed, untrialled and not evaluated.  Expect more to come as problems emerge with more A level and GCSE exams.  If I were a parent of a child who’s supposed to be starting these exams next year I would be very angry indeed.

    One solution would be for schools to sidestep GCSE problems would be to enter pupils for IGCSE and never mind they won’t count for league tables.  if enough schools did this, then league tables would be meaningless in any case.

  5. diasporahighsch

    SchoolsImprove Classic example of politicians thinking of an idea, foisting it on teachers then expecting them to sort out their mess.

  6. diasporahighsch

    SchoolsImprove Classic example of politicians thinking of an idea, foisting it on teachers then expecting them to sort out their mess.

  7. Turquoisetrot

    SchoolsImprove make me mad, more ad hoc rush equals poor results, they should all teach for a week to understand the smartboard face

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