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Thousands of teenagers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland are receiving their A-and AS-level results today. But, in England, there have been changes to this year’s A-level qualifications – the BBC News website sets out the changes.
What is different about this year’s A-levels in England?
Under the new system, students sit all A-level exams at the end of two years of study, instead of taking modular exams throughout the course.
AS-level results no longer count towards A-level grades. No subject will have more than a 20% coursework component and most courses will be assessed entirely through exams.
Resits will still be available, but January exams will be scrapped, so students will have to wait until May/June of the following year for a chance to improve their grades.
Why was this change brought in?
The change was brought in by the former Education Secretary Michael Govewith, the intention of making the exams more “fit for purpose” – or harder.
The new AS- and A-levels syllabuses have been phased in across schools in England from September 2015.
The DfE says: “The content for the new A-levels has been reviewed and updated. Universities played a greater role in this for the new qualifications than they did previously.”
What is happening to AS-levels?
The AS-level is being decoupled from the A-level, which means it operates as a stand-alone qualification and the results do not count towards A-level grades – although in Wales and Northern Ireland, they will still count towards an overall A-level mark.
Provisional figures from the Department for Education show that the number of entries for AS subjects has fallen by 42% this summer.
Association of School and College Leaders general secretary Geoff Barton said it “sounded the death knell for AS-levels”.
“The great benefit of the old system was that it gave students a broader range of knowledge and allowed them to keep their options open for longer,” he said.
“The decision to decouple these qualifications was an entirely unnecessary reform, which is narrowing the curriculum and reducing student choice.”
Which subjects are being phased in when?
This year, new A-level qualifications were taken in:
- art and design
- computer science
- English language
- English language and literature
- English literature
Next summer, candidates will sit the new A-level qualifications in the following subjects:
ancient languages (classical Greek, Latin)
- drama and theatre
- modern foreign languages (French, German, Spanish)
- physical education
- religious studies
In the summer of 2019, new exams will be sat in:
- ancient history
- ancient languages (biblical Hebrew A-level only)
- classical civilisation
- design and technology
- environmental science
- film studies
- further mathematics
- government and politics
- history of art (A-level only)
- media studies
- modern foreign languages (Arabic, Bengali, Gujarati, Greek, Japanese, modern Hebrew, Panjabi, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Turkish, Urdu)
- modern foreign languages (Chinese, Italian, Russian)
- music technology
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