Gove announces plans to overhaul A-level development
Yesterday, Education Secretary Michael Gove MP, announced plans to enable elite universities to set A-level syllabuses and exams, with the aim of better preparing A-level students for university.
Whilst many of our members have expressed concern that A-levels are not adequate preparation for Higher Education, Gove’s proposal assumes that university is the end of the education pipeline, whereas (as emphasised by the Government support for the Society of Biology’s Degree Accreditation Programme) it is the skills for employment and the economy that need to be traced back through the whole system to the A-level and a joined up system from secondary, tertiary and beyond.
Furthermore, in our response to Cambridge Assessment’s consultation on ‘A better approach to Higher Education/Award Body interaction for Post – 16 Qualifications’, in February last year, the Society of Biology stressed the importance of learned societies in the development of qualifications. We agree that stakeholder engagement is of utmost importance when developing new or redesigning qualifications and we strongly believe that any qualifications, including A-Levels, should be developed in consultation with the full range of subject specialists including university academics, teachers, and employers. We argued that at the level of specific A-level subjects, for example Biology A-level, it would be more effective and efficient for Awarding Bodies to work with the appropriate Learned Society rather than individual academics and university departments. Learned Societies integrate the views of a range of universities, offering a broad and balanced response whilst also ensuring that Awarding Organisations do not have to develop multiple contacts with multiple academics.