More top schools ditch A-levels in favour of the baccalaureate

Some of the most prestigious schools in the country are turning to the International Baccalaureate, complaining that the A-level system no longer identifies outstanding candidates and that it bogs down students with unnecessary exams.

Forty-nine schools now offer the two-year qualification, which involves a range of compulsory subjects, according to the International Baccalaureate Organisation, the Geneva-based body that runs the exam.

From this September, pupils at fee-paying Bedford School will be able to take the IB instead of traditional A-levels, for example. The top performing North London Collegiate School for girls hopes to offer the qualification in 2004, while Eton College recently announced it too is considering running the baccalaureate alongside A-levels.

Last week's publication of A-level results saw a fresh round of complaints that the exam has become "too easy".

It was also reported that a pupil at Colchester County High School for girls, Candice Clarke, had failed to win a place to read medicine at Trinity College, Cambridge, despite having five As at A-level. Top universities have long complained that the exam no longer discriminates between top-performing students.

Thousands of students now achieve three or four A grades at A-level. In the baccalaureat, by contrast, only two per cent, achieve the top mark.

Well-known public schools such as Malvern, Haileybury and King's College School Wimbledon already teach the course. This year the giant Whitchurch comprehensive school in Cardiff became one of a handful of state schools to offer the qualification.

Mrs Katy Ricks, headteacher of Sevenoaks, a private school which is planning to phase out the A-level by 2006, said the IB has the advantage of being independent from government interference.

Eighteen-year-old Tom Brougham at Sevenoaks has just been awarded the maximum mark of 45 in his IB and is now heading for Edinburgh to read medicine. Tom needed 37 points for his place at Edinburgh, the equivalent of three As at A-level. Fellow student Sarah Featherstone, 18, found keeping up with six separate subjects hard work, but still received 35 points - the equivalent of two As and a B - for a place to read psychology at York University.

Thomas Alexander, also at Sevenoaks, scored 39 points and is going to study geography at Nottingham University. He says he was never in any doubt that the IB was preferable to an A-level course, even choosing to take up Spanish as a new subject.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

AER Teachers: Early Years Teaching Assistant Newham

Negotiable: AER Teachers: Outstanding East London primary school seeking an Ea...

AER Teachers: Southwark primary School looking for teaching assistants

Negotiable: AER Teachers: Southwark primary School looking for teaching assist...

Royal College of Music: Assistant to the Deputy Director & the Director of Research

£24,451 - £27,061 per annum: Royal College of Music: The Royal College of Musi...

Guru Careers: Marketing Analyst / Optimisation Analyst

£35 - £45k DOE + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing / Optimisation Analyst is...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory