Fiona ChurchBy Professor Fiona Church, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Education, Law and Social Sciences

The changes to the structure of A and AS level exams by the Secretary of State for Education, whilst not surprising to education professionals, were not welcomed. The notion that two years of study in a more limited range of subjects, followed by revision for an end of course examination leads to ‘deep study’ has been severely criticised by the teaching profession and a wide variety of groups including the CBI, teachers unions and think tanks such as Million +, all of whom feel there was no need for the change, calling it rushed and incoherent.

Evidence does not show that modular units in AS and A level have led to a drop in standards. There has been a threefold increase over the past 13 years of graduates achieving first class honours degrees. It could be argued that modular A level courses in fact prepare students well for both university courses and apprenticeships – which tend to be modular in design rather than based on an ‘all or nothing’ approach at the end of the programme.

Business leaders have called for school leavers and graduates to be more ‘work ready’ on completion of their studies. Valued employees are usually able to demonstrate a range of flexible skills and to work on a variety of projects at any given time. Work is generally not ‘linear’, with projects at different stages of completion – and the need to work across a range of activity is expected. How will the new proposals develop these abilities?

These proposals appear to be based around old fashioned ideas of ‘academia’ that may not achieve the result Mr Gove is looking for. Maybe a proper consultation is needed?

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Fiona Church

Fiona Church

Executive Dean of the Faculty of Education, Law and Social Sciences