A-levels

Young people more sceptical of need to go to university, poll finds | Education

Young people in Britain are increasingly sceptical of the need to go to university and are more aware of apprenticeships, according to polling, as a record proportion of school-leavers await their A-level results. More than 300,000 sixth formers across England, Wales and Northern Ireland will find out the results of their summer exams on Thursday and in many cases use the grades to gain places on undergraduate courses. But only two-thirds of young people rate a university education as important,…

Read More

Stormzy to fund Cambridge scholarships for black students | Education

Stormzy has announced that he is funding two scholarships for black British students to go to Cambridge University. The grime artist will pay the students’ tuition fees as well as a maintenance grant for up to four years of an undergraduate course. Speaking on Thursday at his former school, the Harris City Academy in Croydon, south London, where A-level students were opening their results, Stormzy told BBC Breakfast: “If you’re academically brilliant don’t think because you come from a certain…

Read More

Rising number of pupils caught bringing phones into exams | Education

Cheating on mobile phones, cyber-attacks on schools and leaked or fake exam papers being shared on social media are among the problems that students and teachers now have to navigate, according to reports by England’s exam regulator. Data collected by Ofqual, which oversees GCSE and A-level examinations, shows a rising number of students were caught bringing phones into exam venues last summer, while the regulator also reported that schools have been hit with hacking efforts affecting documents stored electronically. Ofqual…

Read More

T-level courses may not be ready by 2020, warns education union | Education

An education union has called for a delay in the introduction of the Conservatives’ new vocational qualifications amid concerns about student recruitment and the tight timescale. T-levels, which are intended to provide a vocational alternative to A-levels, are due to be taught for the first time in September 2020, but a report says the programme faces serious challenges because of the large-scale changes involved and a lack of awareness among pupils and their parents. There is also concern about progression…

Read More

Extra time for all who need it in GCSEs and A-levels | Letter | Education

Re your article (One in five pupils granted more time to sit key exams, 22 November), if we are serious about inclusion and access for all, we must question the copious amounts of time spent testing children and young people to identify their “abnormal” needs for time, prior to taking written exams. Far better to accept that it is normal for everyone to work at different speeds, and to give everyone the time they need to do the task. This…

Read More

‘Best time ever’: school-leavers have pick of university courses, says Ucas | Education

Today’s school-leavers are enjoying “the best time ever” to take their pick of university courses, thanks to fierce competition between institutions recruiting from a shrinking pool of 18-year-olds, according to the UK’s university admissions administrator. Ucas, which operates the admissions process for undergraduate courses, said nearly 98% of applicants received offers of a place to study for a degree this year, and that could be even higher next year as the demographic dip among British school-leavers reaches its lowest point.…

Read More

‘Students don’t see the value’: why A-level English is in decline | Education

Tim Edwards* is an English teacher in a secondary school in a relatively deprived part of east London. He’s passionate about his subject, but is watching it die in front of his eyes. He’s losing students left, right and centre as they opt for the sciences or maths, and it’s hard to convince their parents of the value of studying Philip Larkin, Chaucer and and Tennessee Williams in the current climate. A-level results day on Thursday confirmed an alarming trend:…

Read More

One in five GCSE and A-level pupils granted extra time for exams | Education

Record numbers of pupils who sat GCSE and A-level exams this summer were given 25% more time to complete their papers, official figures have revealed. Almost one in five exam entries (19.4%) were granted extra time as a result of access arrangements for pupils with special educational needs, disabilities or temporary injuries, according to data published by the examinations regulator, Ofqual. Numbers have been rising over recent years, peaking in 2018-19 with just under 257,000 exam entries awarded the additional…

Read More

Pupils with behavioural issues failing to meet exam benchmark | Education

Only one out of every 25 pupils in schools for those with behavioural difficulties or exclusions managed to gain passes in English and maths GCSEs this year, according to national data which also shows little headway being made in improving overall exam results. Just 4% of those in England attending pupil referral units or similar alternative provision achieved grade 4s or higher in maths and English, while just 1.5% managed at least 5s in both subjects, the government’s favoured “strong…

Read More

Exam board AQA to pay out £1.1m over rule breaches and errors | Education

The exam board AQA is to pay more than £1.1m in fines and compensation for a string of rule breaches, errors and failings in GCSEs and A-levels that regulators said could seriously undermine public confidence in the qualifications system. Ofqual, which oversees school exams in England, said it had levied its largest ever fine on AQA after 50,000 appeals for exam papers to be reviewed or re-marked, spread across three years between 2016 and 2018, were carried out by AQA…

Read More

Brexit ‘putting pupils off modern foreign languages’ | Education

The aftermath of Brexit and the difficulty of new GCSE and A-level exams have combined to put off young people from studying modern foreign languages (MFL) at school, according to a new report by the British Council. While more than two-thirds of teachers surveyed by the British Council said the difficulty of the exams was causing concern, one in four said Brexit had “cast a pall” over pupils learning any foreign languages, with some parents actively discouraging their children. Teachers…

Read More

Russell Group scraps preferred A-levels list after arts subjects hit | Education

Arts education organisations have welcomed a decision by the Russell Group of research-led universities to scrap its controversial list of preferred A-levels, after long-running criticism that it has contributed to a devaluation of arts subjects. The group’s list of so-called “facilitating subjects”, including maths, English, sciences, languages, history and geography, was originally drawn up to help pupils choose A-levels that would open doors to more degrees at the most selective universities. Critics claim it has resulted in a narrowing of…

Read More

Postcode lottery denies poor A-level students a musical career | Education

Musicians and academics are warning of a crisis in music education as research reveals that in some of the UK’s most-deprived areas not a single student is taking A-level music. The study found a distinct correlation between schools not offering music A-level and wider social deprivation. It says: “The most-deprived areas in the country face significant difficulties as A-level music provision continues to shrink, while across a number of large regions there is no provision at all.” Knowsley, Tower Hamlets…

Read More

Ofqual is killing off modern foreign language education | Letters | Education

The education secretary is right that exams are “inherently stressful” – but for students taking a modern foreign language (MFL), the stress is disproportionate. They will have to sit excessively difficult exams and accept that their grade may well end up lower than their performance deserves. In a recent BBC survey, 76% of English schools reported that the perception of languages as “difficult” was the main reason behind the drop in pupils studying for MFL exams. Where’s the incentive to…

Read More

Modern language teaching ‘under threat from tough exams’ | Education

The exams regulator in England, Ofqual, is “killing off” modern languages by failing to address the excessive difficulty of language GCSE and A-level exams, according to more than 150 academics. In a letter published in the Guardian, the 152 academics – from 36 universities – warn that the exams are graded too severely and the stress for pupils is “disproportionate”. “They will have to sit excessively difficult exams and accept that their grade may well end up lower than their…

Read More