Top heads call Michael Gove A-level changes ‘high-risk’

Plans for rapid changes to A-levels are “high-risk” and a “huge gamble”, elite independent school heads say. This is from the BBC…

The Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference is concerned about A-levels being introduced in 2015 without trialling them first, according to the Times Educational Supplement.

All A-levels will become linear, with exams at the end, under the changes.

The government said details of the new qualifications would be available a year before they are first taught.

But Dr William Richardson, general secretary of the HMC, said: “It is a huge gamble to rush so much change at high speed with no piloting.”

He added: “It is high-risk. You can’t be sure of the consequences.”

His warning comes a few days before candidates in England, Wales and Northern Ireland get their A-level results, which are not expected to rise significantly and may even drop slightly as a clampdown on grade inflation continues.

Dr Richardson, whose organisation represents schools such as Eton and Harrow, predicts the reformed A-levels – championed by Education Secretary Michael Gove – will continue a trend towards lower grades.

“If you enter students for three linear A levels, the assessment regime is less predictable for them in their weakest subject because they have had no milestones along the way to help them calibrate their achievement.”

This is in part because the current system, where the first year of A-level, known as the AS, counts as a separate result in its own right is being dismantled in the changes.

But it is the “accelerated timetable” of the reforms that most worries the HMC.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “Academics at our best universities have long been concerned that there are real problems with current A-levels.

“Our reforms will raise standards. Ofqual is aiming to make details of reformed A-levels available in autumn 2014, a year in advance of first teaching so schools will have plenty of time to prepare.”

Ofqual, England’s exams regulator, has just published its plans for the coming exam reforms, including those to A-levels.

More at:  Top heads call Michael Gove A-level changes ‘high-risk’

Does all change inevitably carry a degree of uncertainty and risk (even if the change is valid) or is the situation being made worse with these changes due to pace of change and lack of piloting? And are independent heads especially concerned because they have the current A levels ‘sorted’ and worry these changes will affect their results? Tell us what you think!

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Categories: Policy and Secondary.


  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove It amazes me that repeatedly Gove’s policies are questioned by those who actually have to implement them, but he continues

  2. mrpeel

    SchoolsImprove remember that we tell students that success only comes by taking risks! Central tenet of the IBDP Learner profile too.

  3. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Not sure these heads are protecting themselves, just think that not testing the “new” qualifications first is a huge risk

  4. ZCMRock

    SchoolsImprove fair point – it is common sense; Gove is playing a game of Guinea Pig with a generation’s future. It is scandalous.

  5. ZCMRock

    SchoolsImprove furthermore, it would be sensible to oversee a localised launch, perhaps in his constituency, prior to a nationalised one.

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