We welcome the Government's announcement on A Level reform

03 April 2012

Today we welcomed the Government’s announcement on A Level reform. We praised the Secretary of State Michael Gove for his radical approach and pledged to ensure our UK arm, OCR, delivered the new style A Levels to the highest quality.

Group Chief Executive Simon Lebus said: "For the last two years we have been advocating this kind of policy shift. We have been consulting with Higher Education on just such a change and are pleased that Michael Gove has listened. In addition, our 18 month long HE Research Programme has identified what works and what doesn’t with the current qualifications, who needs to be engaged in the process of rebuilding them and, most importantly, it has definitively established that HE wants to help design A Levels."

Exam Board OCR is already working with nearly 150 academics from HE and learned societies in ten subject areas. Its Chief Executive Mark Dawe commented: "Our parent’s Research Division has provided us with a good evidence base. OCR’s direct contacts with universities and subject experts are enabling us to design the next generation of A Levels to the standards expected by Higher Education. A timetable of first teaching of core subjects in 2014 looks challenging but for those of us already committed to a better education system, it is do-able."

We know what HE wants from A Levels 

University academics want A Levels to: include more advanced content for more able students; cover core subject areas in greater depth; and encourage critical thinking, independent study, experimentation, exploration and more extensive reading. These are the initial findings from a Cambridge Assessment study being presented at UCAS’ Admissions Conference on 3 April in Birmingham. 

Cambridge Assessment’s 18 month long Higher Education (HE) engagement research programme also discovered that universities want less ‘teaching to the test’ and for A Levels to be reformed they have to be:

  • Less predictable;
  • Have more essay/open-ended style questions;
  • Limit the number of resits.

The initial research findings support the programme of our UK exam board OCR.

Further details regarding Cambridge Assessment’s HE engagement work see ‘A better approach to Higher Education/exam board interaction for Post-16 qualifications

Research Matters

Research Matters is our free biannual publication which allows us to share our assessment research, in a range of fields, with the wider assessment community.

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