Curriculum Reform 2015

The British government announced plans to reform the A level system a couple of years ago and all schools have been waiting eagerly to see the detail of what these changes might be.  Information has become available frustratingly slowly, but we are now in a position to explain to you what these changes are and to set out the college’s policy in certain key areas.

The most important changes can be summarized as follows;

  • New A levels will be introduced in most subjects, with the first teaching starting in September, 2015, and the first examinations in June, 2017.
  • Most A level grades will depend only on three exams at the end of the two-year course.  The system of dividing each subject into four or six units, which has been in place since the year 2000, has been abolished.
  • A small number of subjects (Geography, French and Spanish) will not change until September, 2016 (first exam, 2018).  Mathematics and Further Mathematics will not change until September, 2017 (first exam, 2019).
  • AS level exams at the end of the first year will be optional and will no longer be counted as a part of the final A level grade.
  • These changes are expected to make A levels a little tougher, but it will be the same for everyone.

In order to prepare for these changes, the Heads of Department (HODs), in discussion with their colleagues, have been carefully examining the new specifications produced by all the main exam boards (AQA, OCR and Edexcel).  Although not all the information is fully available, the HODs have made their provisional choices of board and these can be found in the attached document.  At the time of writing, new text books have not been published and we will make this information available to you as soon as we have it.

After much consideration, we have decided to enter Concord students for the optional AS level subjects at the end of the first year.  There are three main reasons for this, as follows;

  • A number of top universities, including Cambridge and LSE have released statements saying they prefer students to have sat AS levels because it helps them in their decision-making.
  • Many students join us from countries which do not have public examinations such as GCSEs or O levels for children aged 16.  Universities often use GCSE data in their selection process, so we feel that students who do not have any GCSE results will be disadvantaged in their applications if they have no formal public examinations to strengthen their profiles.  AS levels taken at Concord can be used to fill this gap.
  • With Maths examinations remaining unchanged for a further two years, students will continue to sit important public exams at the end of their 6.1 year, so the idea of keeping the summer term empty for more teaching and other activities will not work in practice.

Survey information produced by the University and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) suggests that at least three-quarters of schools plan to enter students for the new AS levels, so this is clearly the majority decision.  Concord College intends to review its policy in 2017.

We are doing everything we can to ensure that the transition to the new system is as smooth as possible.  It is quite likely that, overall, the new system will mean final A level grades will be lower than they have been in the recent past, but we are confident that Concord College will retain its position as one of the UK’s top-performing international schools.

Concord College, Acton Burnell Hall, Acton Burnell,
Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY5 7PF, England.

Telephone. +44 (0)1694 731631
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