Top private schools could scrap A-levels over Michael Gove’s exam reforms

In an article in the Independent, 14/08/13, Richard Garner reports on two HMC leading independent schools concerns over Michael Gove’s exam reforms

Leading independent schools are considering ditching A-levels in favour of their international equivalent as a result of Education Secretary Michael Gove’s exam reforms.

The heads are worried about the pace of the Government’s reforms and the decision by Mr Gove to uncouple AS and A-levels so that the AS-level taken at the end of the first year of the sixth-form would no longer count towards A-level scores.

One leading headteacher and former chairman of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference - which represents elite schools like Eton and Winchester, said a move towards international A-levels was “on the cards” and that many other heads were considering making the switch.

Andrew Grant, head of St Albans School in Hertfordshire, said Mr Gove was “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” by decoupling AS-levels from A-levels.  They would now stand as a qualification in their own right - and heads expect few pupils to take them as they will not count towards A-levels.

Cambridge University has already told Mr Gove that it would like to see AS-levels retained in their present form as they offer admissions officers the only evidence of a pupil’s sixth-form performance before they have to decide whether to make them a provisional offer.

“I know I am speaking for many of my colleagues in HMC when I say we will look for a way of continuing the AS-level system,” he told - the website of the Times Educational Supplement, “we at St Albans are looking very, very seriously at international A-levels because we feel there is tremendous value in the feedback provided by AS-levels at the halfway point.”

The move follows the Edexcel exam board responding to the Government’s reforms - scheduled for introduction in 2015- by announcing a new set of international A and AS-levels with the same modular structure as the present system.

Bernard Trafford, head of Newcastle-upon-Tyne Royal Grammar School, added that he “did not rule out” opting for the international A-level.

Click here to read the article © The Independent.