The department for education has stressed that, ‘A-levels will not be replaced under any circumstances.’ The reforms would see the A-level qualification incorporate more characteristics of the international baccalaureate (IB) – seeing it redeveloped as the advanced baccalaureate (ABacc).
As with the changes recently announced for KS4, A levels would see modular exams abolished. However, it is expected that this would happen over a longer time period than has been set out for the changes to the KS4 examinations.
Under the new system, A-level students will be encouraged to select a diverse range of subjects – those focusing on arts subjects will be expected to choose a science subject or maths to study. Students with a primary interest in scientific topics will also be expected to choose an arts subject to study at KS5.
The changes, put forward by Michael Gove, are in response to criticisms from universities who have previously voiced concerns that some students start university unprepared in both academic knowledge and technique. Students applying to Russell Group universities, such as the University of Warwick and King’s College London, will have to write a 5,000 word dissertation as part of their application.
A spokesperson for Universities UK said in response to the news: ‘We would welcome efforts to improve skills in extended writing, critical thinking and research. In terms of subject choices, however, it is important to remember that there is not a magic formula to gain entry to specific university courses.’