Heads predict surge in retakes

22nd August 2003 at 01:00
Sixth form college heads are predicting a surge in the number of students wanting to retake modules in January following a drop in the proportion getting top grades for AS levels.

The decline in A to D grades awarded at AS was eclipsed last week by news of yet another record-breaking A-level achievement rate.

While the AS decline is marginal, analysts believe it has led to students getting one grade in four lower than expected.

A spokesman for the Joint Council for General Qualifications denied that boards had been tougher with AS exams. He said: "Results showed that candidates were awarded the grades they earned."

But college leaders may challenge this. Kevin Conway, former principal of Greenhead College, who carries out a value-added analysis of results every year, said: "To my mind, there is no question that standards have really stiffened up."

After completing an initial analysis of 5,000 students, he told FE Focus:

"There is a definite decline in achievement. It does not mean next year's A-level grades will be worse, as students will only carry on with their best three subjects."

But many colleges predict that this will yet again hit those subjects considered hardest, such as maths, sciences and history.

Several principals said that since half the final A-level grade was dependent on the AS, they expected considerably more students to demand their right to resit modules in January.

David Linnell, principal of John Leggott College, said: "We have got fantastic A-level results but AS are lower than expected. Our AS success rate was 90 per cent. We expected 92 per cent.

"I cannot throw my arms up in the air and say they are terrible, because they still give students the basis for good results for next year. But the difference is disappointing and will leave some students with substantial ground to make-up in their A-levels."

Every year, the sixth form colleges dominated the achievement league tables, ranking alongside some the the most elite selective grammar schools.

But Dr Conway's evidence suggests lower-ability studentsin many secondary schools may struggle to make the A-level grade next year.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today