Invited Symposium on A-level reform (Sep 2012)

Tuesday 4th September 2012

Oxford University Department of Education

The 2010 Schools White Paper on the Importance of Teaching announced that Higher Education should be more involved in A-level development and signalled a change to re-sitting arrangements. Subsequently, a number of policy announcements were made relating to the re-calibration of standards, Higher Education endorsement of A-levels and changes to the structure of A-levels. This symposium was a forum for the presentation and discussion of research relevant to the reforms. Participants were from Higher Education, industry and government and the main purpose of the symposium was to bring together research, practitioners and policy makers to critically analyse the factors that will affect the success of this reform.

Click here for the programme.

Presentations from participants

Jo-Anne Baird – Introductory remarks
Susannah Wright – A-­Levels and Higher Education: Academic and admissions staff views
Jo-Anne Baird – Assessment reform
Tina Isaacs and Alison Matthews – Lessons learned from C2K and the Diploma
Michelle Meadows – Re-setting the watch: recalibration and discrimination
Rose Clesham – An analysis of A level demand

Report on Symposium on A-level reform

The report of the symposium is available here. It was submitted to Ofqual in response to their consultation on A-level reform.

Relevant articles

Assessment and Qualifications Alliance Centre for Education Research and Policy (CERP) A-level reform: The view from the inside. Papers include:

  • The A* at A-level
  • How many grades should a qualification have?
  • Is ranking A-level students useful?
  • Has the AS-level achieved its intentions?
  • Are modular structures responsible for learning to forget?
  • What is the impact of resitting at A-level?
  • Should the best mark count when resitting at A-level?
  • Why have A-level outcomes risen?

Cambridge Assessment Viewpoints A Level reform: research. Papers include:

  • A questionnaire survey of 633 university lecturers on the impacts of qualifications for 16 to 19 year olds on higher education
  • Focus groups on lecturers’ views about the effectiveness of curricula for 16 to 19 year olds as preparation for university
  • A literature review on pedagogical differences between A Level and university.

Ofqual Fit for Purpose? The view of the higher education sector, teachers and employers on the suitability of A levels

Wilde, S. & Wright, S. (2007) On the same wavelength but tuned to different frequencies? Perceptions of academic and admissions staff in England and Wales on the articulation between 14-19 education and training and higher education. London Review of Education, 5 (3), 299-312.

Kotecha, B., Inge, N. & Leighton, P. (2010) Can the new A-Level curriculum meet the demands of higher education? Milburn, Mandelson and other misdemeanours – which way is government policy pointing for legal education? The startling case of Professor Buckland: or what can happen if you claim you are protecting academic standards! The Law Teacher, 44 (2), 195-217.

Daly, A., Baird, J., Chamberlain, S. & Meadows, M. (2012) Assessment reform: students’ and teachers’ responses to the introduction of stretch and challenge at A-levelCurriculum Journal, 23 (2), 173-187.

Baird, J. & Coxell, A. (2009) Policy, Latent Error and Systemic Examination FailuresCADMO, XVII (2), 105-122.

Baird, J. & Lee-Kelley, L. (2009) The dearth of managerialism in the implementation of national assessment policyJournal of Education Policy, 24 (1), 55-81.