We have had a number of questions seeking clarification of the announcement we made last week regarding A levels. We can confirm that the changes we announced come into force from September 2013, so there will be no January exams for students whether they are in their first or second year of A level studies. Therefore, students who started a two-year course in September this year (2012) will not have the option of January exams in their second year.
Ofqual has today (Friday, 9 November) announced that from September 2013 students in England will no longer be able to sit A level exams in January, after the proposal received strong support following a three month consultation into A level reform. The change will also address recent concerns over how many times students can sit their exams by reducing resit opportunities.
From next September, students will only be able to sit AS and A level exams in the summer. This change is the first phase of proposed wider A level reforms. Further changes to the system, including more involvement from higher education into the design of A levels, and changes to the A level structure, are also being considered and will be announced at a later date
Chief Regulator, Glenys Stacey, comments: “Earlier this year we set out our proposals for A level reform. We received an excellent response to our consultation. The results show that respondents are very supportive of the proposals we outlined to remove the January assessments. Our consultation also demonstrated broad support for our proposals regarding more involvement from higher education.
“The consultation followed on from Ofqual’s research into perceptions of A levels. This showed that the qualifications are considered to be largely fit for purpose but that there were some structural changes that could be made to improve them. There were also concerns expressed by teachers, employers and universities over what they term a resit culture. Teachers in particular said that A level students approach examinations with the expectation that they will always get a second chance. Making improvements in these key areas is what this first phase is about and it has been widely welcomed by higher education and by many schools and colleges. The next phase will consider further structural changes to strengthen the A level, how higher education will be involved in A levels, and content changes where stakeholders deem that they are necessary.”
Key findings from the consultation are published today and show support for:
- the principle of higher education engagement with A level design, however there was less support for universities “endorsing” each A-level
- students being assessed at the end of each of their first and second year of study
- the removal of January exams and reduced resit opportunities
- increasing synoptic assessment in A levels, allowing students to integrate and apply their skills, knowledge and understanding with breadth and depth
- reducing internal assessment.
Ofqual’s open consultation into A level reform ran for three months earlier this year. Just fewer than 1000 respondents took part. To read the evaluation of the consultation responses and to access all related documents published today, please see the Ofqual website www.ofqual.gov.uk
Notes to editor:
All the reports are available on the Ofqual website and can be accessed here: http://www.ofqual.gov.uk/qualifications-and-assessments/qualification-reform/a-level-reform/
The reports are as follows:
Impact assessment of A-level reforms
Comparative Analysis of A Level Student Work Final Report
Comparative analysis of A level assessment outcomes for 2008‒10
Analysis of the consultation carried out into higher education involvement in GCE A levels and amended GCE A level criteria (design rules)
Equality Analysis of the A Level Reform Consultation
Fit for Purpose? The view of the higher education sector, teachers and employers on the suitability of A levels report can be accessed here