Leader: Think again on A level

Now that the dust has settled on this summer's A-level results it becomes even more obvious that the whole system is in need of reform. The beginning of a flight to the International Baccalaureate (IB), encouraged by over-generous tariff scores for university entrance, has been followed this week by Cambridge University's list of no fewer than 20 A levels that provide a "less effective preparation" for its degrees. General studies and critical thinking did not even feature among this group, as they would not be accepted at all for a conditional offer.

With grade inflation prompting a move to the use of individual module scores and an A* grade on the horizon, the time has surely come to revisit the issues in the Tomlinson report. Ruth Kelly, as Education Secretary, was understandably reluctant to undermine the "gold standard" and was not convinced by the merits of an overarching diploma. But Alan Johnson, her successor, has more self-confidence and must see that the gold standard is already undermined. Without some action, the system will fracture, with many more academic schools switching to the IB and A levels dividing even more obviously into two tiers.

Already registered?

Sign in now if you are already registered or a current subscriber. Or subscribe for unrestricted access to our digital editions and iPad and iPhone app.

Register to continue  

You've enjoyed reading five THE articles this month. Register now to get five more, or subscribe for unrestricted access.

Most Commented

Universities to scale back liberal arts and social science courses

  • David Humphries illustration (24 September 2015)

A Russell Group tagline rap is further proof that we need to reform the academy’s approach, argues Philip Moriarty

  • World University Rankings

US continues to lose its grip as institutions in Europe up their game

  • World University Rankings 2015-2016 methodology

Change for the better: fuelled by more comprehensive data, the 2015-2016 rankings probe deeper than ever

  • protest, street, march

Even in the academy, your class background will always be a factor in how you are seen, says LSE’s Lisa Mckenzie