New look for A-levels

3rd April 1998 at 01:00
A-levels are to undergo yet another re-vamp, the Government will announce this week.

But all questions of radical change will be postponed, despite six months of consultation on sixth-form studies.

The news will disappoint campaigners for a broad-based baccalaureate including many in the Department for Education and Employment who have been lobbying to scrap the "gold standard" A-level.

Under the new proposals each A-level will be broken into six parts made up of two three-unit AS-levels.

This gives the qualification the same structure as the vocational GNVQ - also made up of six units - a move which should enable students to "mix and match" qualifications from academic and vocational pathways.

Students who achieve well in either qualification will be eligible for a new post-16 certificate, viewed as a half-way house to a baccalaureate.

There will also be a new sixth- form qualification in "key skills", stressing students' grasp of communication, application of number and information technology.

In essence, the Government will back Sir Ron Dearing's 1996 recommendations on 16-19 qualifications. His mammoth report proposed breaking down exams into bite-size chunks so that students achieve something for their efforts, even if they fall short of a full qualification.

He also suggested re-structuring exam courses so that different sorts of exam can be seen as comparable - A-levels and GNVQs for example.

Ministers announced the latest consultation soon after it took office last year, postponing implementation of Sir Ron's report.

There will, however, be few changes.

Despite misgivings about the A-level, the DFEE does not want to divert attention from basic literacy and numeracy.

The plans are, however, different in Wales where an all-embracing post-16 framework for qualifications is envisaged in a new green paper. This would cover schools, colleges and universities.

FE focus, page 29

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,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today