Another year of A-level results

Another year of A-level results. Attention has focused on the slight dip in performance levels particularly for As and A*s grades. Yet this is due to a ’comparative outcomes’ approach to assessment, introduced by Michael Gove during  his ransacking of state education. Gove considered that examination boards where deliberately manipulating grade boundaries and causing ‘grade … Continue reading Another year of A-level results

A-level. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

This years A-level cohort is the first to take the new style qualifications – part of wider changes introduced by Michael Gove to make exams ‘fit for purpose’.  Gove ended the AS level as a half way point to a full award and set strict limits on the amount of coursework – most subjects would be … Continue reading A-level. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Gove’s exam reforms may still come off the rails

After months of concern, alarm  bells are ringing over accreditation of new A-level syllabuses Maths and further maths have been put back a year to 2017, while chemistry and English literature syllabuses, due to be taught from 2105  have yet to be given the green-light by Ofqual. With continued doubts  about the new GCSEs also … Continue reading Gove’s exam reforms may still come off the rails

A-level stampede continues as Twigg defends the AS

On the day that 300,000 students received their results, Stephen Twigg, Labour’s   spokesperson – not usually prone to intervening in debates about education (!) – criticised the Coalition’s decision to make changes to A-levels, making them linear rather than modular with end of course exams,  but also committed Labour to restoring AS level as a … Continue reading A-level stampede continues as Twigg defends the AS

A-level of expediency? (Soft and Hard, Vocational and Academic Part 2)

The huge media coverage of the GCSE grading scandal particularly in English, meant A-level results received less attention than usual this year. Like GCSE there were signs of things to come with a 0.4% decline in the percentage of A/A* awards; even if the total percentage grades A*-E continued to increase - by 0.2 per … Continue reading A-level of expediency? (Soft and Hard, Vocational and Academic Part 2)

A level of discontent

Michael Gove’s call for increased involvement by elite universities in formulating A-level examination questions attracted both media attention and considerable controversy,  yet it’s  consistent with Gove’s more general intentions for A-level - replacing modular assessment with end of course examinations, ranking some subjects above others in terms of difficulty and reducing the importance of ‘process’ skills in favour … Continue reading A level of discontent

A-level: From ‘academic and vocational’, to ‘soft and hard’.

  Martin Allen                                                                                                                                                                                                               NUT 14-19  discussion paper  (For an update on A-level developments see Comprehensive schools have fought hard to build up their sixth-forms. The early comprehensive reformers were critical of A-level- an examination designed for a small minority of post-war school students. Yet  as Caroline Benn and Clyde Chitty recognised Thirty-years on comprehensive schools ‘accommodated … Continue reading A-level: From ‘academic and vocational’, to ‘soft and hard’.

The Pre-U Won’t Do

                                                                 Martin Allen  *                                                                                                                           Proponents of Tomlinson style reform of 14-19 education may have been encouraged by last year’s   announcement of new diploma lines in more traditionally academic subjects - humanities, science and languages- alongside the original 11 diplomas in more directly vocational areas[1], yet there is still no evidence of the … Continue reading The Pre-U Won’t Do

Responses to Cambridge Exams Pre-U

                                                                                                Martin Allen,  letter, The Guardian  23/07/08   The real issue for Greg Watson (Cambridge exam chief...Guardian 22/07 is that too many young people are now passing A-levels, a qualification originally designed for the elite few. Faced with the demands of Government's 'standards agenda', teachers increasingly 'teach to test', but it is also the case that … Continue reading Responses to Cambridge Exams Pre-U