Top private schools in Oxfordshire look at opting out of new A-Levels

In an article in the Oxford Mail, 15/08/13, Fran Bardsley reports on those independent schools who are looking at opting out of the new A-Levels. Two HMC members' schools Abingdon and Magdalen College School are quoted.

THE controversial planned reforms to the A-Level system could see some of Oxfordshire’s top independent schools using other qualifications.

The changes will see AS- Levels – currently sat in the first year of sixth form and contributing with the second year A2 results to a final A-Level result – turned into standalone qualifications.

Thousands of Oxfordshire students will today discover the results of their A-Levels, but concerns have been raised about their future.

Dr Tim Hands, headteacher at Oxford’s Magdalen College School and chairman of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, said schools were “without doubt” concerned.

He added: “At this school, like any other, we will look at the right exams for the right candidate to get them to the right university and we review that regularly.”

He said the school already offered an uncertificated study scheme which helped address concerns about the ‘narrowness’ of A-Levels.

Abingdon School deputy headteacher Graeme May said the school was actively looking at alternatives.

Mr May said: “We too have expressed our concern about the loss of the AS qualification as part of a full A-Level and will actively keep alternatives under review while the exam boards are formulating their new specifications.

“It is particularly noteworthy that Ofqual’s impact assessment for the new qualifications specifically reported back to Michael Gove that the great majority of those consulted were in favour of retaining a link between AS and A2.

“He chose to ignore this.”

THE CHANGES

FROM next month, pupils will not be able to sit A-Level exams in January, with all exams being taken in the summer.

Other longer term changes planned are for all assessments to be taken at the end of the A-Level, rather than at the end of each year, and the introduction of a standalone AS-Level which will not contribute to a full A-Level.

The curriculum content of current exams is also being reviewed.

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