Voluntary work and ‘contrasting subjects’ to form part of A-level reforms

Teenagers face completing dissertation-style essays and voluntary work as part of a major overhaul of A-levels, it has emerged. Pupils could be required to undertake large-scale projects – on top of conventional subjects – under radical new plans being introduced to ensure students are properly prepared for the demands of university, it was revealed. This is from the Telegraph…

The move is being considered as part of a proposal to create a new “Advanced Baccalaureate” for sixth-formers.

Last night, Government sources insisted the reforms would not lead to the abolition of A-levels but admitted the so-called “ABacc” could be added to official league tables. It may also be awarded to pupils as a new college leaving certificate.

It follows the introduction of a similar system at GCSE, where pupils can gain the “English Baccalaureate” for scoring good grades in the key academic subjects of English, maths, science, languages and history or geography.

The move comes amid concerns that too many teenagers start university lacking the key skills needed to succeed on degree courses.

A study published earlier this year showed that many universities were being forced to provide booster lessons in the three Rs for first-year undergraduates because school leavers are so badly prepared for the demands of higher education.

It was revealed that many teenagers struggled to structure an essay, use correct spelling, punctuation and grammar and carry out independent research after being “spoon-fed” through A-levels.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “A-levels will not be replaced under any circumstances. There are public consultations about reforming A-levels.

“There are also numerous suggestions about new ABacc league table measures but no decisions have been made.”

The Government has already outlined a planned overhaul of A-levels.

Under proposals, existing bite-sized modules will be scrapped in favour of traditional end-of-year exams. More open-ended questions will also be introduced to stretch pupils further

It is believed that AS-levels – sat at the end of the first year of the two-year A-level – will be retained but as a separate, standalone qualification.

In addition, it is believed that Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, wants to add more depth to the qualification by encouraging teenagers to undertake independent study, voluntary work and other subjects.

It is understood that the ABacc would require A-level students to include a “contrasting” subject within their course choices, to counter claims that the current system leads to a narrowing of options at 16.

Pupils who chose A-levels in maths, further maths and physics would be expected to pick a humanities subject, such as history or geography as a fourth subject, the Times reported.

Teenagers who opted for humanities A-levels such as English, history or geography would be required to take a maths course at AS level during the first year of the sixth-form, it emerged.

Students will also be expected to complete a 5,000 word dissertation and undertake voluntary work.

More at: Voluntary work to form part of A-levels

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