A levels: More private schools use alternative courses

Today's independent-school Year 13 results reveal a rising number of schools offering alternative qualifications to A levels

Catherine Lough

Private schools are increasingly offering alternative qualifications to A levels, new data shows

A growing number of independent school sixth forms are using alternative qualifications to A levels, new figures reveal today.

Year 13 results published by the Independent Schools Council (ISC) show that 90 per cent of its member schools received results for qualifications other than A levels this year.

And the number of privately educated students taking alternative courses including the International Baccalaureate, BTECs, Pre-Us and the EPQ – the extended project qualification – is on the rise.

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There was a 13.3 per cent rise in the number of independent-school candidates studying the EPQ, up to 7,139 students.

Alternatives to A levels

The EPQ involves independent research for a dissertation of 5,000 words or creating a product alongside a 1,000-word report.

Candidates for the Pre-U – a linear, exam-based alternative to A levels offered by Cambridge International – has risen by 6.7 per cent since last year to 3,677 independent school pupils. The number studying BTECs was also up by 17 per cent to 1,296 pupils.

In total, there were 14,901 independent school entries for alternative qualifications this year, including the International Baccalaureate.

However, A levels continue to dominate, with 97,544 Year 13 independent entries this year.

Barnaby Lenon, chair of the ISC, said schools offered a variety of courses to provide students with a broader education.

“It is encouraging to see a growing number of schools offering yet more choice to pupils, acknowledging that alternative qualifications provide different ways through which young people can explore the subjects they are most passionate about,” he said.

“Regardless of whether a pupil wants to pursue a more academic or vocational pathway, independent schools are well-placed to enable them access to the route that will best meet their needs.”

“This year’s results show that schools are offering a wider array of educational opportunities and effectively supporting pupils to fulfil their potential.”

This year’s results, collected from 498 ISC schools, revealed that the percentage of entries gaining an A* grade at A level was 17.2 per cent, more than twice the national average of 7.8 per cent.

The percentage of pupils gaining three A* grades or their equivalent was 7.2 per cent this year.

For pupils taking the International Baccalaureate, the average point score achieved was 36, approximately equivalent to 4.5 A grades at A level.

Over a third of students gaining the IB Diploma obtained 39 points or more, while 51 pupils achieved the maximum possible IB score of 45 points.


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author bio

Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

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