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PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 12:08 pm 
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I've looked through all the old threads hoping someone would have already posed this issue but couldn't find anything so here it goes...

My DS is in year 11 at a GS and is about to sit his GCSEs.

He is therefore going to be the first cohort to sit the new linear A'Levels. His school had previously let the boys start off with 4 A'levels, then dropping 1 after AS and continuing with 3 at A2.

At their recent 6th Form open evening, they announced that they would only allow boys to take 3 A'Levels with only very exceptional boys (no more than 10) being allowed to take 4 A' Levels. Their argument is that universities only offer based on 3 A levels anyway and doing this will help the boys to focus more and study their fewer subjects at greater depth.

We have also attended other local grammar school 6th form open evenings and they are sticking with the 4 A'Levels despite the change to linear exams.

So, my question is: Will my DS be at an disadvantage when applying to universities as he would have only 3 A'Levels and no AS qualification? He will be competing with boys who have started with 4 A'Levels and presumably, they will have the edge over him.

I am now getting quite concerened and wondering whether, depending on his GCSE results, we should move him to another school's 6th Form which does offer 4 A'Levels. Or, will it not make the blindest bit of difference?

Any thoughts would be most appreciated.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 12:24 pm 
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Quote:
At their recent 6th Form open evening, they announced that they would only allow boys to take 3 A'Levels with only very exceptional boys (no more than 10) being allowed to take 4 A' Levels. Their argument is that universities only offer based on 3 A levels anyway and doing this will help the boys to focus more and study their fewer subjects at greater depth.

I wonder if it has do with changes in the way 6th Forms at schools are now funded i.e per pupil, instead of per subject entry?

Do 4th subject get UCAS points?


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 1:06 pm 
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My DD is in Yr 13 & (hopefully) will get 4 A levels. But all her uni offers were based on 3 subjects only. I can't see Universities changing this, especially as it seems many schools are now encouraging students to take 3 subjects from Yr 12.

The 'other grammar school boys' might start off with 4, but I guess many will drop one after Yr 12 - and without having anything to show for it as at least students do at the moment.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 1:12 pm 
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Location: Warwickshire
We're not affected by this change (DD is in Year 13) now, but our experience of university applications this year is that a lot depends on what your school provides. For example, if a school routinely has students studying 5 A-levels (some do!) and you are looking at the higher-rated universities but only doing 3 then you'll be at a disadvantage. If your school only offers 3 then the universities won't penalise you.

This is particularly clear in the case of further maths. If you're aiming to do maths at a top university and haven't done further maths I get the impression you'll be OK if your school didn't offer it, but if you chose not to do it then this might be an issue.

In response to tense... some maths offers this year include a 4th A-level, but presumably only if you're doing it!


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 1:25 pm 
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We are in the same position. It's nothing to do with funding. It's because the previous education secretary decided he didn't like modular A levels and the potential for students to resit AS modules which had not gone as well as they would have liked. But instead of going the whole hog and scrapping AS levels he left them there as 'standalone' qualifications so students are meant to do them in Y12 but they won't contribute to A levels. Unfortunately Cambridge university has written to schools saying they still want to use them as grade predictors because they don't believe GCSEs are as good. Without this 'helpful' intervention it's likely that the AS would have died this year, I think. So schools are caught between a rock and a hard place frankly - don't offer AS levels and risk Cambridge getting snooty, or offer them and have timetable issues (some new AS levels are designed for co-teaching with A2 linear courses and some aren't, leaving students having to decide in Y11 which subject they will drop in Y13) or have a whole bunch of children sitting unnecessary exams in Y12.

And now I read that if Labour win the election they intend to stop the whole thing in its tracks, giving OFQUAL less than 3 months to approve their own plan, and schools even less to come up with an appropriate response.

This is another example, possibly the worst yet, of politicians and one Mr Gove in particular meddling in education because of their own ideologically-motivated aspirations, with no thought to how schools are meant to implement the fruits of their ponderings and moreover, how young people will be affected.

OP- I don't think there is a right answer here. You don't need 4 A2 levels for sure, but studying 4 subjects in Y12 has been the norm for so long (in English education terms 'long' is any period over 2 years) that schools aren't able to advise whether this year it may be best to do 4 and drop one, with or without and AS. After this year when all subjects become linear (some aren't 'ready' yet apparently) I have a hunch that 3 may become the norm again, with the corresponding lack of breadth and opportunity for younger students unsure of their university path to cover their bases. But that's only my opinion, not informed by evidence. Mainly because there isn't any yet. :roll:


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 1:52 pm 
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Quote:
This is another example, possibly the worst yet, of politicians and one Mr Gove in particular meddling in education because of their own ideologically-motivated aspirations, with no thought to how schools are meant to implement the fruits of their ponderings and moreover, how young people will be affected.


Wish all politicians and their ideologically-motivated aspirations could be set aside; besides Mr. Gove, apparently a source of all problems in the British education, one Mr. Crosland and Baroness Shirley Williams also come to mind. Perhaps such decisions should be handed over to Universities or independent educationalists (without ideological aspirations and foreign influence).

I believe the IB courses are divided as Higher levels and Standard levels in different subjects. So perhaps, likewise A2 can be taken in three main subjects one wants to do and the forth subject, different from the other three, as AS to add breadth.

Also isn't it now that AS would also be taken in year 13 (after 2 years of study) than in year 12?


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 2:12 pm 
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tiffinboys wrote:
Also isn't it now that AS would also be taken in year 13 (after 2 years of study) than in year 12?
No. It wouldn't be much use to Cambridge and its (individual/maverick/we-know-best-and-can-afford-to-be-difficult - delete as a appropriate) system of issuing offers by then, would it? AS is dying, unless Mr Miliband can come and resurrect it. At the 11th hour and by, frankly (and I can't find a nice word for this sorry) ****ing on schools again.

Your idea sounds fine and it's what happens now, but as not all new AS courses can be co-taught with A2 and A2 students would neither want nor need to sit an AS, schools would have to timetable 2 classes where now they only have one, and students would have to decide which subject to drop before they even started sixth form, whereas now they can decide once they get their AS results in the summer before Y13.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 2:40 pm 
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Thanks, Amber.

So can students now start with 4 subjects, continue with 3 to A2 level and leave one at end of yr 12, whether taking AS exam or not?

Is there a severe overlap of AS and A2 topics in the subjects? Is new syllabus such that AS topics could be covered in yr 12 and advanced topics in yr 13?


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 3:36 pm 
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To begin with it is frankly a mess as some subjects change before others and schools don't really know what Universities are going to do.

If a pupil is applying from a school that doesn't sit AS levels what are they going to do? There will be shouts of discrimination if they reject everyone without AS levels.

At my DC's GS at least 4 A2s is the norm and students often get 4 subject offers. Sometimes it means they get for example A*AAA instead of A*A* A but it isn't always advantageous.
I haven't heard but my guess is they will continue with 4 subjects as very very few pupils drop a subject at AS anyway ( unless its a 5th or 6th subject).

However no-one is doing anything more than making an educated guess as to how all this will impact Uni offers for your DCs cohort.

I would look at 2 points:
Which school is the best fit for your DC - in terms of growing up as well as academically?
Do his future plans particularly require 4 subjects eg to keep options open, especially if one option requires Further Maths.If not then don't worry about the number but focus on the most appropriate school generally.

The FM is an interesting question itself. Many pupils do it as an extra subject atm because they can take modules across year 12 & 13 and some of those end up just getting an AS qualification in it. No doubt this will be impacted by the changes.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 04, 2015 3:43 pm 
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Quote:
my guess is they will continue with 4 subjects as very very few pupils drop a subject at AS anyway ( unless its a 5th or 6th subject).


Our school only allows 4 AS and 3 A2s, unless the forth is FM. Don't know what will be their policy in 3, 4 years time.

I suspect that students, who want Cambridge and like relying more on AS scores, to take AS tests and others may just take A2 exams.


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