14 GCSE, 29 AS and A-levels axed in exam shake up
Many GCSE, AS and A-level qualifications will be subject to thorough reforms whilst others could be scrapped altogether according to a report produced by exam watchdog today.
The consultation, released by the independent body Ofqual, charged with maintaining qualification standards across GCSE and A-levels, details the proposed measures designed to certify that all subject curricula is “fit for purpose and up to date”.
As part of the measures, certain subjects currently available to students, such as A-levels in Economics and Business, Environmental Studies and a GCSE in Home Economics, in which 32,064 awards were given two years ago, could be entirely discontinued.
The report states: “Any remaining unreformed GCSE, AS and A-level qualifications will be withdrawn with effect from 2017 but if necessary, reconsiderations would be made in 2016.”
Other courses to be scrapped include GCSEs in Manufacturing, which received only 105 students in 2012, Catering, Applied Science and Humanities. Besides these, Ofqual also plans to revise Media Studies, Philosophy and Critical thinking.
Explaining the proposed changes Ofqual said: “In England we have a large range of subjects and a variety of qualifications with different titles and some overlap that can be confusing and make standards difficult to maintain.”
The watchdog particularly cited Biology and Human Biology at AS and A-level as two subjects that overlap and too closely related to continue simultaneously.
Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), welcomed most of the proposed changes, but called for an end to “toxic discourse about soft and rigorous subjects”.
Brian said: “Core academic subjects are important but they are not enough. In a global economy we need young people who have all kinds of skills in a range of disciplines.”
Today’s report follows the planned implementation of other large-scale school reforms in England. The most notable of these are the controversial revisions made to the GCSE English literature syllabus, specifically the removal of celebrated American writers – John Steinbeck and Harper Lee – in favour of more contemporary British literature.
Subsequently, a petition has appeared online calling for the removal of Michael Gove, the secretary of State for Education and has so far been signed by over 100,000 people.