A levels to get revamp

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PLANS to reform A-levels have been welcomed.

Exam watchdog Ofqual says the qualifications need to be strengthened by only allowing one re-sit, replacing modules with end of year exams and having more input from universities.

There are also thoughts of scrapping AS levels and returning to two-year A-levels.

Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Education Minister, said: “The most important thing is that exams have the confidence of parents, teachers, employers and higher education institutions.

“Using the expertise of universities to ensure that our post-16 qualifications continue to keep pace with the rest of the world is a sensible thing to do and I would support that.

“I am more uneasy about the loss of modular exams and limited resits, as this could have a significant and disproportionate impact on the grades that some young people can achieve, such as those with special educational needs.

“This needs to be looked at in detail before a final decision is made to ensure that A-levels remain rigorous, but also accessible.”

Coun Robert Oliver, Sunderland’s Conservative spokesman for education, said: “Any attempt to reduce the number of A-level exams pupils take should be welcomed, with January the most obvious session to cut, leaving a more manageable set of exams just once a year in the summer.

“UK pupils are some of the most examined in the world, but the most important consideration is the rigour of the exam rather than the frequency and this needs to be addressed considering grade inflation in recent years.”

Announcing the proposals for A-level changes, which will be open for consultation for three months, Ofqual chief executive, Glenys Stacey, said too many resits by pupils can devalue individual exams, with people retaking modules several times to push up their final grade.

The proposals also say universities should be engaged in the content and design of A-levels and the qualifications should have the support of at least 20 universities.

If the proposals are adopted, the first changes would be applied to A-level courses beginning in September 2013, with pupils taking reformed exams in summer 2015.

The A-level plans coincide with leaked Government documents which propose scrapping the GCSE and going back to a two-tier examination system similar to O-levels and CSEs, which have been met with criticism.

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