What lies ahead for Sixth Formers?

As we embark on our annual open day for potential Sixth Formers and the first 6.1 (lower sixth) Review meeting when we assess individuals' progress, I reflect on what lies ahead for these two cohorts. For our current 6.1s who will take A Levels in 2015 and the embryonic one that will take them in 2016, the pattern is reasonably predictable for these students. They will continue with the slightly reformed current system, the only reforms being the taking away of January modules (which the current 6.2s (upper sixth) are the first cohort to be affected by) and the tightening of grade boundaries, making it more difficult to get the top grades.

Students currently in Year 11 (Block 5) will be the last to have the merits and demerits of the current system whereby most students take the AS exam on the way to achieving their final A Level, having taken A2 in their second year in the Sixth Form. Although the exam hurdles are a bit tougher, I suspect that the availability of places at many of our universities is likely to remain in line with the 2012 and 2013 entries.

So, what lies ahead in the brave new Govian world for those currently in Year 10 (Block 4) who will start in the Sixth Form in 2015? Well, assuming that a change of government does not scupper the current plans, from 2015 all A Levels will be fully linear, meaning that exams are all taken at the end. AS is to be de-coupled as a stand-alone qualification. It is not yet clear what shape this will take but it looks as if a return to something like the old AS, whereby it was as difficult as the A Level but did not require as much material to be studied might be on the cards. Sounds familiar? It will come as no surprise that the post 2015 landscape is eerily like the one that some of us went through - the pre-2000, old linear A Level.

A complication as far as the launch of subjects in 2015 is that those subjects requiring a significant change to curriculum content will be delayed until September 2016 or later - so, Maths and Further Maths, for example, are in this category. Where curriculum content needs to be revised the Russell Group of universities will have considerable influence on the changes.