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Gove turns reforming gaze to A-levels

After announcing his intentions to replace GCSEs with an ‘English Baccalaureate’ last month, it was today reported in The Times that Michael Gove has no less ambitious designs with regards to A-levels.

Plans are reportedly being made for an ‘Advanced Baccalaureate’, a qualification envisaged to cover a broader selection of subjects than those currently undertaken by students sitting A-levels. The proposals seen by the paper suggest a greater focus on academic balance, with students who specialise in the arts being required to take at least one science based subject and vice versa.

The reform apparently comes in response to University concerns over freshman students’ lack of general knowledge outside their specialised subject area and their poor performance in key areas such as literacy.  Amongst the details of the new proposals were plans for involving community or volunteer work and the option to write a 5000 word, dissertation-style essay, which would provide extra credit and could be completed by school leavers wishing to attend prestigious universities, such as those belonging to the Russell Group.

A spokesperson for the Department for Education was quick to stress that the plans were currently in the early stages and the government had no plans to replace A-levels. The aim seems to be instead to create a broader framework within which A-levels play a significant role. It is suggested that AS Levels will remain as a separate qualification.

The examinations regulator, Ofqual, is currently involved in its own consultation regarding A-levels, with the results set to be announced later this autumn. A move away from the current, modularised model is widely expected, though today’s news points to a much wider shakeup.

Labour’s Stephen Twigg, the shadow Education Secretary, cautiously welcomed the news of the Government’s plans but stressed the need for vocational education to be given a key role, as recently outlined by Ed Miliband at the Labour party conference.

The announcement of the reforms in a national newspaper, rather than from the Department for Education itself, sparked a fierce controversy, with a spokesperson from the Association of Teachers and Lectures condemning yet another ‘leak’.   ‘He [Gove] shows contempt for teachers, pupils and parents by once again discussing this with journalists before talking to those who will be affected by it, or those with the expertise to ensure a changed system works.’

Oct 17, 2012 02:28 PM
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