Why bother with A levels if...

(74 Posts)
Miljea Sun 11-Apr-21 19:44:41

... you can get on a health care degree apprenticeship with a couple of GCSEs, a 3 month local tech P/T level 3 'Introduction to Health Care' course (essays, no exam); and an additional 'Step Up' 8 hours of 'prep' coursework? Thence onto a degree course with all but no academic time (20% of the total time); 1 exam (end of Y1) and all the rest being 'assessments' and 'essays'- run by the uni who want the cash and have no skin in the game - or accountability- once you 'qualify'?

Why did I bother with three A levels, including a science? And then paying for my degree?

Am I a mug -or is the British Public in the dark about the tumbling standards needed to be a HCP?

OP’s posts: |
EduCated Sun 11-Apr-21 19:46:45

Which degree are you talking about?

5zeds Sun 11-Apr-21 19:47:18

You will have many more options than someone who doesn’t do Alevels and a degree

EduCated Sun 11-Apr-21 19:50:52

Posted too soon - because for most healthcare professions, I (as a member of the Great British public) am quite happy with the idea that HCPs are largely trained in a hands on, placement type fashion as opposed to lots of academic exams.

But then I’m generally against turning everything into a degree.

And did you need to do A Levels, or did you choose to? You’ll have far more options open to you than someone who did more specific access type courses.

GreyhoundG1rl Sun 11-Apr-21 19:53:05

Is it an actual degree, or a diploma?

titchy Sun 11-Apr-21 20:00:41

You don't technically need any qualifications to do a degree if you're a mature student.

Arguably it's a fuck ton more difficult a route than the one you took of presumably staying at school then straight to uni, supported by parents, with no other responsibilities.

Miljea Sun 11-Apr-21 20:14:59

An actual degree, greyhound.

And, to be fair, I do understand that there has long been an anti-intellectualism running through our society that shuns academia in favour of dirty hands.

OP’s posts: |


titchy Sun 11-Apr-21 20:18:46

* Am I a mug -or is the British Public in the dark about the tumbling standards needed to be a HCP?*

Assuming you're taking about the nursing apprenticeship - you do realise nurse training never used to be three years at uni. It was all hospital based. This is no different!

EduCated Sun 11-Apr-21 20:25:01

I’d far rather my nurse had been observed and assessed hands on than purely in an exam hall. I do think there is a place for exams, but I really don’t consider them the be all and end all.

Many degree subjects are moving away from traditional exams, particularly after the last couple of academic years.

EduCated Sun 11-Apr-21 20:30:33

Also, which degree? A casual Google hadn’t brought up anything for a 3 month, part-time course that give access, but not sure I’m looking for the right thing.

Embracelife Sun 11-Apr-21 20:42:43

There are different levels .
You could have gone from a levels to degree apprenticeship
What s your issue?
Some people get a degreevi different route


Miljea Sun 11-Apr-21 22:04:24

I became an HCP a long time ago. A diploma qualification. To enter the course you needed English and Maths O level (not GCSE! 😂) plus a science (all A-C); then two A-D A levels. That was the entry requirements for the 'getting your hands dirty' Diploma of 1980. We spent 50% of our 9-5, Mon-Fri day in college, 50% working in our department.

Don't go comparing that to degree apprenticeship entry; Maths and Eng GCSE 9-3; or 'functional Maths/English' if you don't have that - both can be done together, alongside a level 3 course, that being a 3 month course - over a year! And, Bob's your uncle, no need to worry about a three subject (now) 2 year A level course! Or the ability to deal with high level exams in exam hall conditions.....

We need to be careful what we wish for.

I watched my 2.5 year diploma course turn into a three year degree; and I recognised the additional knowledge and skills the uni students needed to pass. Acknowledging that HC is no longer Florence Nightingale.

But I do understand that Jie Public doesn't understand that. They want degree level arse wipers.

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mayneedabiscuit Sun 11-Apr-21 22:16:42

I'm not sure I totally get your point.
But then I have lots of GCSE's, A-levels, letters after my name ....
Surely no matter what the different routes of entry are that you are moaning about you all still need to complete the same final course and pass it?

titchy Sun 11-Apr-21 22:18:20

Your entry requirements were for 18 year old school leavers. They wouldn't have been as vigorous (if 2 x D grade A levels could be described as rigorous on MN...!) for mature students.

So you're comparing apples and pears.

Why so bitter though? Do you have any evidence that nurses training via the apprenticeship route are shit at their job?

EduCated Sun 11-Apr-21 22:25:39

It would be a lot easier if you just said what degree you’re talking about.

What is the 3-month Level 3 course? I couldn’t find anything Googling and am intrigued.

So you needed 3 O Levels and 2 A Levels. A Levels are a Level 3 qualification. You are describing people needing a ‘couple of GCSEs’ and a Level 3 qualification, plus the Step Up thing. That sounds roughly similar?

Is it the entry requirements that is your concern? Or the course once they’re onto it? I’m not entirely following. As I said, I personally thinking turning everything into a degree is a bad idea. It needs the appropriate training for the role, not shoe-horning into a three year degree format.

That said, I think it’s fair to say routes into almost every profession will have changed since we had O Levels.

Miljea Mon 12-Apr-21 00:01:30


I'm not sure I totally get your point.
But then I have lots of GCSE's, A-levels, letters after my name ....
Surely no matter what the different routes of entry are that you are moaning about you all still need to complete the same final course and pass it?

No. This is where the problem lies.

Once upon a time, the Royal College of Nurses oversaw what was taught in the undergraduate course (and how many places were made available).

Similarly The College of, say Radiographers- dictated the course content, again, I the knowledge of what was deemed necessary to know in order to be a radiographer.

Then it went university, and that link was broken. Back in the diploma days, a duff cohort of badly trained staff could be directly blamed on the college who trained them. Now, every course in the land is different. Some are better than others. Some will taken anyone safe in the knowledge that they are unlikely to be held accountable for the result.

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PresentingPercy Mon 12-Apr-21 00:11:39

I guess the nhs needs the staff. My friend has a DD who did nursing bus a degree and she did a huge amount of Ward work. Her mum, also a nurse, but not a degree holder, said she did less when she trained. Far more classroom work.

My DM was a SRN in the early 1940s during the war in London. She did exams and 1/2 a day off a week. It’s just what happens. Times change. So do qualifications. At least hospitals are not getting bombed now as DM’s was.

MarchingFrogs Mon 12-Apr-21 07:51:35

The RCN (Royal College of Nursing, not Nurses) is a professional representative organisation (aka union).

I think you mean the General Nursing Council, which was replaced by the Nursing and Midwifery Council in 2002 as the regulatory body for nurses.

Miljea Mon 12-Apr-21 11:06:42

But semantics aside, you get my drift.

And I take on board what someone else said, times change.

Maybe we actually are okay with less well educated HCPs.

I think it's potentially a mistake, and it will be reflected in pay levels before too long. But I also know why- taking away the HCP training bursary caused numbers to collapse, entirely as predicted; now some way has to be found to address that shortfall, and it appears some strands of HCP are now prepared to admit considerably lower qualified individuals onto their degree courses.

But I think a fall-out may be the tensions between 2-3 A level holding degree students clocking up £40k debts having their clinical time impinged upon by degree-apprenticeship students who will be being paid, will have no debt, will have a stronger toe-hold in that hospital, and may well be on their course based on functional maths and English tests and a year of cobbled together Step Up courses and three month part-time level 3 qualifications, not an exam in sight, administered by colleges who have no skin in the game other than to pass these students.

OP’s posts: |
NoNotHimTheOtherOne Mon 12-Apr-21 11:12:11

Then it went university, and that link was broken.

No it wasn't. Nursing and midwifery degrees have to be accredited by the Nursing & Midwifery Council in the same way as medicine degrees have to be accredited by the General Medical Council. The standards for accreditation include details of curriculum content.


I haven't been through this for a nursing degree programme but I have been through it for medicine and pharmacy programmes and the process and the post-accreditation monitoring are pretty rigorous.

cologne4711 Mon 12-Apr-21 11:26:20

I don't actually see the issue with functional Maths tests. You don't need to know algebra and circle geometry to be competent at mental arithmetic. People need to be numerate and understand basic geometry so eg they know how many rolls of wallpaper they need to cover a wall but I am not sure I have ever used much of my Maths GCSE.

Xenia Mon 12-Apr-21 11:29:22

Same with law. First SQE1 exams for solicitors are later this year - 2021. Although you need a degree but that could be a third class one in knitting.... you can self teach for the exams and same for SQE2 and then have 2 years of legal work experience a solicitor signs off on which can be in 4 different places as a para legal and you will qualify under the new system.

I just hope the public can tell the difference between those who may be dangerous to them and those who are going to better for them.

I think they made SQE1 exams 100 multiple choice as those bad at English (ie who cannot do the job as lawyer which requires good English) who were not from the UK were doing worse in the practice ones so we dumb it all down to make it easier to qualify and be let loose on the public.

So Jimmy could be home schooled, does an OU degree of some kind by the time he is 18 and SQE1 and 2 exams at 19 whilst working since age 16 in the legal department of somewhere or other and is then qualified at 18 or 19 as a solicitor.

MyDcAreMarvel Mon 12-Apr-21 11:36:56

Personally I think from year nine only those capable of a 6 or above in maths should be following a GSCE maths pathway.
A new functional maths exam should be brought in that teaches real world maths. APR’s , how mortgages work, compound interest, whether 3 for 2 or bogoff is a better deal. Measuring for cooking as pp says working out rolls of wallpaper or tins of paint needed to decorate.

titchy Mon 12-Apr-21 11:39:40

You're wrong OP. As nonothim says, the regulatory bodies have to approve the degrees. And it's not easy to get that accreditation I can assure you.

And the regulatory bodies actually co-designed the degree apprenticeships. That's the bloody point of apprenticeships - that the employer group or PSRB determine their content. The employer also carries out the end point assessment on top of the continual assessment and degree assessment - which is more than happens to students who just do the degree.

I do agree with you regarding removal of the bursary though.

But you're wrong with the training. There's nothing to suggest it's any less rigorous than the degree route, or the very old route you went through. The entry requirements for mature students hasn't changed.

Ritasueandbobtoo9 Mon 12-Apr-21 11:47:58

I am sort of with you. The best HCP’s in my team are the ones with the best Qualifications!!! Also the degrees in my opinion let through some less competent and resilient people. We work with the Universities and they are trying to address this.

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