'New' A Levels - today's announcement

(65 Posts)
BidRed Wed 23-Jan-13 15:11:10

Another issue has just come up today; the proposal to change the A Levels back to where they were in my day – exam-based.

I do understand why this has been proposed – the Universities and Employers are worried about the drop in standards of the current A levels.

However, there is a big debate starting about how boys do better in exams rather than coursework and that anyway coursework is 'easy' and/or is all down by the parent and therefore cheating.

Essentially, Mr Gove is saying that girls cheat and because they are getting better standards than the boys and have pushed up the pass mark, he wants to go back to the old method which is favoured by boys and will push the girls back down again.

Is this all part of a scheme to get women back in their rightful place of in the home; looking after all generations thereby decreasing the bill for looking after both pre-schoolers and the older generation, and also freeing up jobs for the boys therefore decreasing the unemployment numbers?

All in one go, what a brilliant plan.

If you choose to stay at home, absolutely FINE, but if you can't/don't want to .... ?

Just a little bit sexist though, don’t you think? We are 52% of the vote don’t forget – good old Emily!

What do you think of this plan?

ShipwreckedAndComatose Mon 28-Jan-13 18:44:49

When the conservatives brought in AS and A2 exams they spent quite some considerable time getting a review done to look at what should change and what the new system should look like...and why it needed reform.

Gove seems to go for announcing it to the press as the first anyone at all in education knows anything and insisting that it is all in place in a breathtakingly short time.

Still waiting to see what the current year 7 students will be sitting for their GCSE exams and those course need to be taught from year 9/10 onwards... I find that frankly scarey

noblegiraffe Mon 28-Jan-13 17:55:29

Gove is an idiot, and the only person to seem to have an issue with AS levels as they are. Unfortunately he's in charge. It's outrageous that he is able to steam-roller his plans through in the face of all these professional criticisms.

breadandbutterfly Mon 28-Jan-13 14:30:07

i think the current system is better - I'm another one who did well under the old system but would probably have benefitted from learning how to complete high quality coursework earlier - continuous high standards of essays expected at uni came as quite a shock to me, as i was used to doing a La Queen and getting by with something pulled out of a hat last minute. The sooner schools can teach kids how to apply themselves consistently to study (without essay crises) the better - a useful life skill.

Also agree that it's far better to have AS levels - to give kids a chance to drop a course they realise is a mistake. Two of my dbs would have benefitted from this; in addition, Gove wants people to study maths post A Level - far more sensible to take it to AS only if not doing sciences at A Level and not interested enough in maths to wish to devote 1 out of 3 choices to it at A Level.

Yellowtip Sun 27-Jan-13 22:31:57

QuickLookBusy I agree. It's almost always people with young kids or much older people or people with no kids who say that sort of thing. Most people with kids recently through the system or going through the system know quite well that it's tough.

QuickLookBusy Sun 27-Jan-13 22:21:06

Having had 2 bright DDs recently go through A levels, it infuriates me when people say that A levels are easy.
They obviously have no idea what they are talking about. I assume they haven't had children going through the process as a huge amount of work is required. These days very few find getting into a top uni "easy", there is huge competition and getting top marks at A level is essential.

Yellowtip Sun 27-Jan-13 21:30:59

So which uni did you go to LaQueen? (did anyone anywhere really hang out in the Student Union?).

One of my DDs spent the entire Christmas break completing a single piece of coursework. The finished piece looks way above undergraduate level to me (but that could be me getting old and stupid I guess, since she claims the piece is jejeune). She's almost disturbingly bright. There's no necessary correlation between completing essays or coursework at the last minute and being stupendously bright. So many closet sloggers claim that anyway. Ignore! (or at least take with a bag of Saxo).

gelo Sun 27-Jan-13 20:21:21

Hmm, the problem with those who do their coursework the night before is that they inevitably don't get as good marks as those who have slogged over it for months (the standard expected for coursework is usually way higher than that expected for exam work because of this). Which is why exam only courses favour the bright but last minute 'do as little as possible' types whereas coursework oriented courses favour the sloggers.

LaQueen Sun 27-Jan-13 20:11:34

noble yes, of course continuous assessment would have suited me. I'd have just written my coursework up the day before it was due in, more times during the course of the year, than I would have done otherwise. And, I' would have had to take more exams, but that wouldn't have been a problem, either, as I was always good at exams.

I'd have spent marginally less time in the Student Union, but I'd have done it, annoying though it would have been.

noblegiraffe Sun 27-Jan-13 20:08:52

LaQueen, you said you basically skived down the pub through Uni and blagged the exams through cleverness so presumably continuous assessment wouldn't have suited you and maybe weeded you out as lazy which would have been good, or it would have actually made you work for your degree, which would also have been good.

morethanpotatoprints Sun 27-Jan-13 19:52:55

What utter tosh OP.

There are just as many A levels now that don't include coursework. Students initially want to study the subject in many cases to go to uni.
I too welcome the change and hopefully it will stay that way for my dd. She will be able to access the subjects she wants as under current system anything with coursework is not available to her.

LaQueen Sun 27-Jan-13 19:42:48

Moomin oh come on...so clever children are actually lazy with really poor work ethics? Really?

And, sadly it's not as easy as just having a good memory. You have to apply an awful lot of other useful skills, too. It's just that there are children who have all the skills at their finger-tips, and can also pull the rabbit out of the bag at exam time.

MoominmammasHandbag Sun 27-Jan-13 17:57:14

I think terminal exams benefit the ones who are lazy but have good memories, I include myself in that category. My bright but idle DS would probably have pulled himself together enough to do well in final exams but struggled a bit with the grind of more continual assessment. DD1 on the other hand is not as bright and has a rubbish memory but is doing rather well under the current A level system because she has a really good work ethic. I suspect she would not fare as well if two years' work was condensed into one final exam.

gillviola Sun 27-Jan-13 17:39:17

AS exams are useful as a guide to see if pupils are on track for A2 exams and they prevent what happened to me when I sat my A levels - being taught the wrong syllabus for 2 years and no one realising it until no one could answer a single question on either paper. Sitting in an exam hall for 2 exams,(sociology so no transferable skills, just knowledge or in my case, lack of) not being able to write anything of note is not something I would wish on anyone.

gelo Sat 26-Jan-13 14:46:59

I mean LaQueen, not mordion, sorry.

gelo Sat 26-Jan-13 14:46:22

On the whole I think employers are able to see who the quick ones are Mordion, and not just from exam results. The existing exams aren't too far from being fit for purpose. It speaks volumes to me that the top universities seem against the changes.

LaQueen Fri 25-Jan-13 18:31:30

"If we want children who have the skills that the modules are testing, isn't it better that they resit them until they are competent in that task than take one terminal exam and finish the course without having fully grasped some of the skills?"

Gelo I think the point is that there are plenty of students out there who can and do fully grasp all the skills the course entails and are very quickly competent, and do well in the terminal exam, too.

In the workplace, people who are very capable, quick to understand and even quicker to apply their skills (without needing lots of hand-holding) competently are the most desirable.

Yellowtip Fri 25-Jan-13 18:21:14

multiple choice, not mulktiple.

Yellowtip Fri 25-Jan-13 18:20:19

newgirl it's well established that on the whole boys are better with just exams and girls are better with exams plus coursework. Of course there will be exceptions to the rule, but it's still the general rule. Boys are also better at mulktiple choice than girls in the 11+ tests. Girls dither too much, apparently while boys take risks.

gelo Fri 25-Jan-13 18:13:45

Aside from the fact that none of the children I know resat and resat (a few resat the odd module once, but many resat none), I don't really see the problem with it. If we want children who have the skills that the modules are testing, isn't it better that they resit them until they are competent in that task than take one terminal exam and finish the course without having fully grasped some of the skills?

ShipwreckedAndComatose Fri 25-Jan-13 17:24:43

Sorry, my recent posts were started really in response to chickenyummychicken's post implying that it wasn't possible to fail an A level these days.

I didn't mean to get sucked into an exchange about what it was like when we did O levels and A levels.

My original point was that the pass rate for A levels is so high because students leave after AS if they are failing... Half way through.

my 'deluded' comment was about those who were struggling/ were lazy a long the way but believed that it would be ok in the end.

trust me, they do exist, I've seen loads of them over many many years!!

LaQueen Fri 25-Jan-13 17:13:28

Ship yes, a D/E was a pass - but what I meant was that students consistently getting D/E for essays through the 2 years, weren't going to be expecting to get a A/B in their final exams.

They would know that they weren't really all that good at the subject - so they weren't deluded as you say, into merrily thinking for the 2 years 'Oh, actually I'm okay at this, I'm doing fine.'

But, then as web says, you were stuck with your 3 A Level choices, and if you realised quickly on that you really weren't all that good, then what could you do?

Although when I took O Levels (old gimmer) you really weren't encouraged to take an A Level in which you didn't have at least a B in it, at O Level - so you had at least some proficiency in the subject.

newgirl Fri 25-Jan-13 17:06:52

I thought the point of coursework was to take the stress out of the final exam and make it fairer for all. So this puts the stress back in.

I don't think boys necessarily handle stress better than girls - completely down to the individual

webwiz Fri 25-Jan-13 17:02:45

But if you were struggling there wasn't anything you could do about it - I realised I shouldn't have taken physics A level but it was too late to change and because you only did 3 subjects I couldn't drop it. I prefer the flexibility of 4 AS levels as I've found with my DCs and their contemporaries that it is often a subject that they thought they would really enjoy and do well at that ends up being dropped at the end of year 12.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Fri 25-Jan-13 16:59:34

I did English A level and sciences.

It was true on both types of course...

ShipwreckedAndComatose Fri 25-Jan-13 16:58:40

A D/E was always a pass..

I thought we were talking about those that fail confused

And yes, a great deal of students had a 'it'll be alright on the day' attitude to their work back then...

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