18 Nov 2014
The decoupling of AS from A-level is just plain nuts. Everyone agrees, from admissions tutors to teachers, yet Nicky Morgan, who is more a more seeming like a night watchman education secretary, insists that she will see the policy through.
When we asked teachers last year about the removal of AS as the first installment of A-level, they were unanimous in saying that they didn't want it to happen: there is little or no demand to teach a two year AS course - and no-one expects students to want it either.
Furthermore, obviously universities want to know AS scores because they're a good indicator of A-level success.
Also, it gives students the chance to try a range of subjects and then drop one after Y12.
And, some might say even more importantly, this external end of Y12 exam is a fantastic motivator for students to perform well in Y13 - you only have to look at the impact of removing the January modules on student performance to see the impact of reduced external validation.
Teachers told us that they anticipate that awarding bodies will simply design the new AS levels as a subset of the A-level, so that while students won't be compelled to take the AS as part of the A-level (as now) they still could. But the DfE have thrown a spanner in the works by asking ABs to ensure that this isn't possible by giving the two qualifications different content.
Aside from all the reasons given above why this is a bad idea, another is that it will be very difficult for the great majority of sixth forms, which simply aren't big enough, to staff the extra classes that would be required if any students wanted to take the new AS.
Assuming schools could offer the new AS levels, what are the possible benefits?
Well, if an AS is half an A-level (content), instead of doing 3 A-levels and an AS, they could do six AS levels, covering a broader range of interests than at present. But this would more than double the demand on staffing and universities would need convincing that the AS provided enough depth to progress to degree level.
Also, the new AS levels would allow, errr.. students to ... ummm...
So, awarding bodies: please please ignore the DfE and allow schools to continue AS in Y12 as the first half of A-level.
PS: Someone suggested some suitable English texts that could be studied in the new half sized AS - please feel free add your own in the comments box, below:
- A tale of one city
- Catch 11
- Fahrenheit 225.5
- A morning in the life of Ivan Denisovitch
- The one and a half musketeers
- A history of the world in five and a quarter chapters
- Sixth night
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