03 Dec 2014
There will be some gnashing of teeth and rending of garments about Oqual's decision to scrap AS and A levels in: applied art and design, applied business, human biology, economics and business (combined course) and in GCSE digital communication. They're the latest additions to the list of banned "similar subjects" for 2015. There will be more added as the 2016 subjects are reformed.
In last week's speech, Nicky Morgan spoke about preparing students for the challenges of working life, yet here we have further reduction in the number of applied subjects on offer. This also further underlines the purpose of A-levels as university entrance exams - not that they've been particularly good at that, and will become even less useful with the decoupling of AS levels.
These subjects, while being "too" similar to some subjects, also supported others: human biology, for example was an excellent second choice for A-level PE students. As in other reforms, this latest announcement tends to disfavour the least able students by reducing their options and removing cross-curricular support.
Meanwhile AS and A-level maths reform has been pushed back a year to start in 2017. This is good in that it allows the new GCSEs to have a complete run through before students start the new A-level (a luxury not afforded to other subjects), but it's an indication that the cracks in Gove's hasty reforms are beginning to grow. Further maths is also to be delayed, according to Nick Gibb.
For a complete overview of examination reforms see:
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