When Sally Collier was chosen as Ofqual’s chief regulator, she said making sure new qualifications were accredited on time would be her “most immediate challenge”.
Currently just under a fifth of specifications still need to be accredited, compared to more than half at the same time last year.
But Malcolm Trobe, interim general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) says schools should have access to specifications around a year before they are taught.
He said: “We want to do the preparatory work as early as we can.”
However Collier argues the amount of time that teachers need to prepare varies depending on the subject.
“If you are talking about maths or French there is a certain commonality in whatever is going to come out in the exams,” she says.
“If you are on [a subject] where there is a particular focus on a project, or English where there is a set reading list, you can’t anticipate that. You need to have the materials in order to be able to not go off on the wrong track.”
But the new maths A levels – due to be taught from September – are yet to be accredited (at the time of going to press).
David Miles from the Mathematical Association says members are “becoming increasingly concerned about the time it is taking to approve new A level qualifications in maths and further maths”.
He said that while it is true that the A level-maths content is 100 per cent prescribed, teachers still need specimen assessment materials to be approved by Ofqual before they can finalise their choice of exam board and prepare schemes of work. “Teachers may well have to commence teaching before high-quality resources are available,” he says.
“We are very confident that teachers will manage the circumstances so that no student is disadvantaged but the situation is far from ideal.”
When it is suggested that a year would be a more suitable time period to allow teachers to prepare, Collier counters: “In an ideal world, of course you give people as much time as you could but this has been an incredible reform programme.
“There has been lots of change but I am confident that the current programme is OK at the minute.”