A Level Reforms

From September 2015 there will be major changes nationally in the education system, designed to raise standards. This means that the A Level courses we offer are undergoing reforms.

The Department for Education is introducing new-style A Levels in three stages: in 2015, 2016 and 2017. The first phase of changes will affect students applying to start their post-16 education in September 2015.

What Is Changing?

  • A levels are becoming linear 2-year courses - this means you need to study for the full two years to get the qualification.
  • Coursework is being removed in all but exceptional cases and those courses that retain a coursework element will see it reduced from 40% to 20% of the final mark. In Sciences, assessment of practical work will not contribute to the final A level grade, but will receive a separate certificate of endorsement.
  • A levels will include more synoptic assessment and more variety of questions will be asked.
    • Examinations will be sat at the end of the two year course, not spread out over both years.
  • There will also be changes to the content of specific A level courses.

AS courses still exist as discreet courses and a student may sit an AS examination at the end of Year 12. Many exam boards have designed their AS and A Level courses to overlap, so a student may take an AS examination and then continue the course into Year 13. However, the result of their AS examination will not count towards their final A Level grade.

Many top universities are encouraging schools and students to take the AS and A Level route.

“Old style” courses are still assessed using AS and A2 examinations and you can opt for a mix of old and new subjects.

When Are Courses Changing?

These changes will be phased in over three years, as follows:

Phase 1 – Students starting their studies in September 2015 should note that new-style A levels will be introduced for the following subjects:

  • English
  • History
  • Sciences
  • Art & Design
  • Economics

Phase 2 – In September 2016, the following subjects will follow suit:

  • Modern Foreign Languages
  • Geography
  • Design & Technology
  • Physical Education
  • Drama
  • Music

Phase 3 – In September 2017, the final round of changes will affect the following courses:

  • Mathematics
  • Further Maths
  • Film Studies
  • ICT
  • Statistics

Why Are These Changes Happening?

The Department for Education is aiming to raise standards by changing A level qualifications. Changes are also happening to GCSEs from 2017, with this same aim in mind. These new qualifications should better enable our young people to attain skills, knowledge and understanding comparable to the standards reached by the best of the rest of the world.

If you require more information about the reforms or would like to discuss them further, please contact either Mrs Catherine Redfern Deputy Head Academic or Mrs Francesca Bradbury (Head of Sixth Form).