A-level reforms graded 'F' by students

NUS/OCR poll finds widespread disquiet over Michael Gove’s proposals

May 29, 2014

Three-quarters of students oppose government plans to reform A levels, according to a poll.

Some 76 per cent of students who took part in the survey, which was commissioned by the National Union of Students and the exam board OCR (Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations), say they do not want A levels to consist of exams which would be taken only at the end of two years.

Under plans put forward by education secretary Michael Gove, AS levels will be decoupled from A levels and become a free-standing qualification, with A levels assessed solely at the end of a two-year study period.

However, the poll of nearly 1,900 students in England found the reforms were unpopular with a large majority of students.

Seventy-one per cent say the new A levels will be too stressful, with too much to remember at the end of two years, while only 8 per cent say the reforms would make A levels more attractive to students.

Sixty-nine per cent believe the reforms are flawed because there will be no feedback from exams on how well a student is doing during the two years, while 30 per cent say they would not pick the same subjects under the new A levels.

There is also a perception that the new A levels will be harder and that students may not choose to study maths or science under the new regime, with some 32 per cent of maths students saying they would be less likely to take the subject if it were available only in a linear form.

Joe Vinson, vice president (further education) at the NUS, said the government should listen to students and rethink the reforms.

“There was not one positive statistic relating to proposed reforms,” said Mr Vinson.

“We need to give young people the best chance of getting into the right university or chosen career path, and reforms in their current configuration do not offer this.”

Sally Brown, head of higher education policy at OCR, said: “There is still time for exam boards like OCR to incorporate changes into the A Levels over the next three years of development, informed by the feedback we have received.

“For instance, we are looking at extra feedback sessions and mock exams for students experiencing linear qualifications for the first time, and exploring alternatives that enrich the curriculum.”


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