Schools face 'uncertainty and anxiety' over reforms to A-levels, UCAS head warns

One in six schools are refusing to offer the AS-level exam, whose marks no longer count towards the full A-level

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The Independent Online

Schools are facing “a high level of uncertainty and anxiety” over the Government’s A-level reforms, the head of UCAS - the university admissions service - has warned.

Mary Curnock Cook, the chief executive of UCAS, delivered her warning as a survey of 500 schools revealed that one in six (16 per cent) were refusing to offer the AS-level exam as its marks no longer counted towards a full A-level. A further 18 per cent were undecided.

In addition, one in four schools (24 per cent) said they expected fewer pupils to opt for A-levels as they felt the switch from coursework to a final end-of-course exam would make it too hard for them.


The shake-up, the survey carried out by UCAS argued, posed a dilemma for universities as some - notably Cambridge - relied heavily on AS level results to give them their only glimpse of how students were faring in the sixth-form. In addition, the staggered introduction of the reforms - they will not be fully completed until 2020 - will make it awkward for admissions officers coping with pupils who have taken a mixture of old and new A-levels.

“Responses to this survey paint a picture of a high level of uncertainty and anxiety amongst schools and colleges,” said Ms Curnock Cook in a foreword to the report.

“I would encourage all universities and colleges to move quickly to publish ... statements detailing how they intend to accommodate reformed qualifications within their admission processes to ensure fair admissions.”

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “By decoupling the AS level from the A-level, we are ending the routine of automatic, external assessment of students at the end of year 12 (the first year of the sixth form).”