Universities and the A-level review by Peter Hamilton

In the April issue of Independent Schools Magagzine, Peter Hamilton, Headmaster of the Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School and Chairman of HMC’s Academic Policy Committee writes about the review of A Levels.

The Government’s plans to involve universities in the much-needed review of A Levels make much sense. ‘A’ Levels are and will remain the most important examination for young people completing their pre-university education. But such intentions are only truly to be welcomed if those who teach 16- and 17-year-olds and therefore know best what they need both to expand their knowledge base and develop their study skills, are fully, genuinely, involved in redrawing structures, designing specifications, setting papers and marking scripts. 

It is quite clearly unwise to give universities total control. In those good old days when many of us were involved as awarders and chief examiners, individual university lecturers enjoyed measured input into the process. It was a collaborative effort. Nowadays I fear they would have neither the time, the expertise, nor the experience necessary to plot adequate paths of study. These have to build on GCSE syllabi, to ensure continuity, progression and appropriate levels of academic challenge and excitement as well as guaranteeing absolutely transparent, accountable and effective assessment regimes. The 250 leading co-educational and single-sex independent schools in the UK and abroad that make up HMC have particular expertise in all the above areas and across all subjects; after all we educate more than 190,000 pupils, the vast majority of whom go on to higher education. We can help.

Click here to read the article © Independent Schools Magazine.