Leader: Think again on A level

August 25, 2006

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.

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Assistant Professorship in Behavioural Science LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS & POLITICAL SCIENCE LSE
Foundation Partnerships Officer LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS & POLITICAL SCIENCE LSE

Most Commented

Social media icons

Gabriel Egan laments the narcissistic craving for others’ approval brought on, he says, by the use of social networking websites

James Fryer illustration (8 September 2016)

Some lecturers will rightly encourage forms of student interaction that are impossible for those covering their faces, Eric Heinze argues

University of Oxford students walking on campus

University of Oxford snatches top spot from Caltech in this year’s World University Rankings as Asia’s rise continues

Handwritten essay on table

Universities must pay more attention to the difficulties faced by students, says Daniel Dennehy

Theresa May entering 10 Downing Street, London

The prospect of new grammar schools on the horizon raises big questions for HE, writes Nick Hillman