Schooling secretary under pressure to revoke planned A-level reforms

Education secretary Nicky Morgan has come beneath intense stress to revoke government strategies to decouple AS and A-amounts, amid warnings of “near-unanimous” opposition to the move from across the total education sector.

Morgan, who was appearing ahead of the influential cross-celebration training decide on committee on Wednesday, was informed almost no one particular in the sector was in favour of the reform, which will see pupils research two-yr A-degree programs, rather than taking a linked AS examination at the finish of their initial 12 months of sixth type.

Graham Stuart, Tory chairman of the committee, stated he had as soon as shared the government’s view, but had changed his thoughts when faced with the arguments towards it, and he urged the training secretary to look at it yet again.

Morgan was facing questions more than the government’s sweeping exam reforms, amid growing concern that some of the new A-ranges are not prepared. The new maths and additional maths A-amounts have had to be place back a 12 months to 2017, and the Guardian exposed on Tuesday that the new chemistry A-degree which is due to be taught from following September has nevertheless not been accredited.

The schooling secretary insisted that the issues more than chemistry would not delay the new A-level currently being taught, and she denied that decoupling the current AS and A-level exams would have a disproportionally unfavorable impact on college students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Graham Stuart challenged Morgan’s evidence, saying: “You will have had specifically the very same evidence we’ve got which is that there is really small assistance out there for the decoupling of AS and A ranges.

“It sits rather oddly with a government which says it trusts the frontline, that colleges and teachers know what’s very best for their pupils … There is overpowering and close to unanimous support from the total sector saying actually they don’t agree with this and you haven’t listened. Isn’t this something you could overview?”

He continued: “Why not enable colleges to decide on whether they do a linear A-level in a subject, or a linked AS and A2 technique and then allow time and universities to determine regardless of whether or not one particular is a far better strategy than the other?

“Why just come down so strongly in the face of a close to-unanimous view from the schooling sector including universities? Cambridge University could not be more vocal, or much more cross, or far more often in my office.”

Cambridge University wrote to all schools and schools urging them to retain the AS level as it stands, saying it would put pupils at an advantage since it acts as a “robust indicator” of pupils’ capability as they apply to university.

At the moment, all around 300,000 college students sit AS exams at the end of the very first 12 months of the sixth-kind and A2 exams in the 2nd – with both outcomes combining to kind last A-level grades. From up coming September, A-levels in England will be wholly assessed through finish-of-course exams taken right after two many years. Labour has explained it will restore the linked AS and A2 A-level examination if it wins subsequent year’s election.

Morgan said all the proof she had noticed suggested AS-levels have been not “better predictors of outcomes in terms of capability going to university”. She mentioned college students could nonetheless elect to get the AS exam if teachers believed it useful, but it would not kind portion of the ultimate two-yr evaluation. “We’ve currently set out the clear see of the require for a linear technique where college students are examined right after two years – that is what we want see in A-ranges.”

The chairman explained he shared that view right up until he talked to head teachers in his constituency about the consequences for their pupils. “They felt there were hazards here that you may see pupils, many of whom drop out at sixth type, that the linked AS and A2 system encouraged them to remain the course and to accomplish much more hugely than they expected and that it could have a disproportionately adverse impact on disadvantaged pupils that the government in other spheres is doing every thing possible, rightly, to offer added assist.”

Morgan said she “did not get the argument” that people from particular backgrounds needed to do AS levels. She acknowledged that there was a high dropout charge from sixth types, but explained that was simply because pupils have been not offered the proper suggestions. “We will preserve all these items beneath review and will hold listening to the sector.”

The training secretary advised MPs the chemistry A-degree would be accredited within weeks she was “confident” educating supplies such as text books would be prepared on time, and apart from maths did not anticipate any more delays. The chairman mentioned it appeared “extraordinary” that changes to A-levels had been not getting held back until after GCSEs had been reformed, offered that the reduce-degree qualifications had been meant to put together pupils for sophisticated courses.

He said it may possibly have been better if changes had been introduced in a far more “coherent” and “coordinated” way, saying colleges had been place by means of “a prolonged time period of turbulence and uncertainty”.

But Morgan defended the “swift” tempo of reform instigated by her predecessor Michael Gove. “The predicament we faced, notably in terms of exams and specifications, was critical and there have been concerns about grade inflation and how ready our young kids were for the globe of operate and going to university.

“I really don’t consider my predecessor and earlier ministers felt there was a second to get rid of in 2010.

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