Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Why A Levels? Dr Stephen Wilkinson - Director of Studies

A programme of reforms to A level curricula initiated by Michael Gove in November 2010 with a White Paper entitled ‘The Importance of Teaching’ resulted in new, linear A level syllabuses phased in over three years. In September 2015, new syllabuses started in English, History, Economics, Business Studies, Computing and the Sciences.

Canford’s approach, given that these subjects account for fewer than a half of our A level entries, was to maintain the AS/A2 approach across all subjects, even where (as is the case for the reformed subjects) the grades that pupils gain in the AS exams taken at the end of the L6 year do not contribute to the final A level grade. By taking this approach, we believe that we are providing the best opportunity for pupils to maximise their grades across all subjects, regardless of whether they are reformed or not. In the second phase of the reforms, beginning in September 2016, the scales have tipped in favour of the reformed subjects, and with all but Maths, Classical Civilisation, Politics and Design Technology now operating as linear syllabuses (that is, with exams only at the end of the course) we have spent much time deliberating and consulting about the best way to incorporate these changes in the way we teach our Sixth Form subjects.

In common with the majority of schools, we have decided that from September 2016 we will continue to expect pupils to choose four subjects from the start of the Lower Sixth, and that we will not be offering AS exams in any of the reformed subjects, including the subject they drop going into the Upper Sixth. While we are conscious of the fact that pupils will therefore not have AS marks available for their University applications in the Upper Sixth, we feel that the overall benefit gained from pupils being able to spend the Summer term of the Lower Sixth being taught, rather than preparing for and taking exams that will ultimately not count towards their A levels, makes course of the action the most appropriate for our pupils as they prepare for ambitious University places.

Needless to add, perhaps, but the benefit and reward of taking a fourth subject, regardless of whether an external exam is taken, will be in the opportunity to study further in another discipline, and add to the educational value that pupils take from their Sixth Form study.

No comments:

Post a Comment