Headteachers criticise government’s ‘chaotic’ overhaul of A-amounts

The government’s A-degree reforms ran into difficulty on Tuesday when four subjects were abruptly scrapped, other courses delayed and some schools had been left complaining about “last-minute, piecemeal” modifications.

Soon after Monday’s announcement that the introduction of the reformed AS and A-ranges in mathematics and further mathematics would be place back a 12 months to 2017, it emerged that the new chemistry A-level, which was due to be taught from following September, has however to be accredited.

The examination regulator Ofqual explained it would be scrapping AS and A-ranges in applied artwork and layout, applied business, human biology, and economics and business, hence minimizing curriculum breadth that schools can offer. GCSE digital communication is also to be withdrawn.

New A-levels due to be taught from 2015 need to have been accredited by September to give schools at least a 12 months to get to grips with teaching the new course.

“It’s chaotic,” stated one headteacher. “I wake up each morning and wonder what’s coming subsequent.”

The AQA A-level English Literature syllabus – the market place leader – is also yet to be authorized by Ofqual.

One of the examining boards, OCR, confirmed that none of the awarding bodies had but had their new chemistry A-degree accredited.

Paul Dodd, director of OCR’s examination reform, stated: “This is creating us huge concern.”

Disagreement is centered on the mathematics articles in the new chemistry A-level. Dodd stated he anticipated it to be accepted shortly for teaching up coming 12 months, but acknowledged the delay would place chemistry teachers at a disadvantage as there was no ultimate course specification from which to perform and put together.

“There’s a lot going on,” explained Dodd. “What teachers are crying out for is a time period of stability. This is massive reform. What teachers are telling us is that once we’ve carried out this let’s just sit back and allow these qualifications flourish and build.”

The AQA exam board explained their new A-degree in English Literature, which is also due to be taught from following September, had even now not been accredited due to the fact of disagreements above set texts.

A spokesman explained: “Great global performs of literature like All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque and A Doll’s Property by Henrik Ibsen are really well-known with teachers and students and we want to consist of them as translated texts in our A-degree English Literature syllabus. We have been having a dialogue with Ofqual about this and hope to have confirmation in the up coming day or so.”

The training secretary, Nicky Morgan, will encounter hard questions from MPs on the schooling pick committee on Tuesday about the government’s sweeping college exam reforms.

Labour MP Pat Glass, who sits on the committee, said: “Schools are actually struggling. The government has ‘reformed’ everything at the identical time, but you can’t throw every little thing into the air at the same time and not assume there will be negative consequences.”

She mentioned committee colleagues and larger schooling institutions had been piling stress on the government for months to delay the maths A-degree for a year right up until 2017. The colleges minister, Nick Gibb, had lastly “caved in”, she explained. As well as maths, she stated: “We know there are troubles with chemistry. Physics is also an situation.”

Schools are also anxious about the uncertainty surrounding the AS-level. The government has announced it strategies to decouple it from the A-degree from September 2015. Labour has said it will recouple the exams if it is elected. “The outcome of the election is leading to some concern,” said Dodd. “That’s exactly where the biggest nervousness is at the second.”

At sixth kind open days this autumn, head teachers have had to describe to prospective college students what their programmes for 2015 will search like, and whether or not they will be continuing with the AS-level, as some in larger training would prefer.

Mark Jackson, who is head of Haslingden Substantial College, Lancashire, stated workers, pupils and mother and father had been struggling to preserve up with the reforms, of which A-amounts are but 1 element. “It’s a mess,” he mentioned. “Everything has transformed in one particular fell swoop. It’s like a large explosion has gone off. You want a bit of time to strategy for adjust. But it’s all on the hoof. There would seem to be true minor correct organizing.”

Brian Lightman, standard secretary of the Association of School and School Leaders, mentioned numerous of these choices need to have been created months ago. “Every week it looks we have another announcement on GCSE and A-degree alterations. This is hugely frustrating for teachers and makes it incredibly hard for schools and colleges to program and put together for subsequent year’s exams.

“Schools have presently suggested students on GCSE and A degree alternatives, and they will be generating choices on staffing and resources for up coming 12 months.”

An Ofqual spokesman stated: “Reformed GCSE, AS and A-degree qualifications should meet necessary clear standards so that people using them can believe in them and know that they include value. We will not compromise on people specifications. So far, 92 out of 124 GCSE, AS and A-degree qualifications that have been presented to us have been accredited.

“We recognise that teachers would like sight of the reformed qualification specifications as quickly as possible and we will carry on to accredit qualifications as soon as they meet the necessary standards. The duty sits firmly with the examination boards to submit qualifications that meet our requirements.

“We set up the approach for accrediting the reformed qualifications so that there was enough time to allow its timely completion and to allow enough time for necessary operate submit accreditation. We make certain swift, full and clear suggestions on rejected submissions.”

A DfE spokesperson said: “As part of our strategy for schooling, we have reformed A-ranges to make sure college students are learning the abilities and expertise they need to have to do well in larger schooling and beyond.

“We know that schools want time to prepare for these reforms and have phased them in above a amount of years. The mind-boggling bulk of specs for the new A-amounts for educating in 2015 are already with schools.”

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