A-levels fail pupils and should be replaced with baccalaureate, new report finds

Teenagers are being failed by current system that is 'narrow and outdated'

The A-level system should be scrapped and replaced by a broader, baccalaureate style of qualification, a major report has recommended.

The findings published by academics and business leaders warned that A-Levels are “two narrow” and should be replaced with a European-style baccalaureate to equip teenagers with a wider skill-set.

The Making Education Work independent advisory group, led by former rector of Imperial College London Sir Rory Anderson, also concluded that the current system promotes “learning to the test”, with too many sixth-formers leaving college with poor writing and numeracy skills. It also found teenagers are unable to think critically, solve problems, and act with emotional maturity.

Sir Roy raised concerns that English classrooms have changed little over a course of 60 years, adding: “While the past has much to teach us, that shouldn’t be at the expense of keeping a keen eye on the future.”

Students currently taking A-levels at college specialise in three of four subjects.

The report instead recommends that A-levels should be phased out over six to eight years to make way for a baccalaureate-style system where students study six subjects, including English, maths, languages, science and technology.

If their plans are put in place, new courses would also include a compulsory extended project and assessments on skills including team work.

Exclusive: Outstanding schools struggle to fill headteacher jobs because applicants ‘can’t spell’  

The six-month inquiry included input from Sir David Bell, the Reading University Vice-Chancellor, former Permanent Secretary at the Department for Education, and Sir Michael Rake, Chairman of BT and President of the Confederation of British Industry.

Sir Michael said that A-levels are “narrow and outdated” and that other skills necessary for success “including the fundamental need to improve the basic skills of literacy and numeracy” are at “an unacceptably low level”.

The report also called for an independent body comprising of teachers, employers, universities and political parties to be created, with a focus on establishing consistency and a “long-term political consensus” to protect education from the political cycle. 

The findings point to the fact that, on average, education secretaries have remained in post for two years over the past 25-year period.

The report comes after the Government’s re-working of the national curriculum and an overhaul of A-levels which did not adopt the baccalaureate system. 

Gove’s revolution: pupils return to traditional subjects in huge numbers  

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “Our new curriculum was developed following extensive consultation with a wide range of experts and will give children the essential knowledge they need.

“Alongside wider reform to GCSEs, A levels and vocational qualifications this will mean young people leave school with the skills and qualifications they need to secure a job, apprenticeship or university place.”

The Association of School and College Leaders, which represents head teachers, welcomed the report according to the BBC.

Brian Lightman, the association's General Secretary, said it supports a similar approach to the Making Education Work report.

"Countries that do consistently well in international comparisons, like Singapore, have a long-term plan for their education service that rises above political considerations and is not driven by the electoral cycle," he said, "and there is no reason why England should not be able to do the same," he said.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K YR1: SThree: At SThree, we like to be dif...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Are you a recent graduate loo...

Guru Careers: Graduate Editor / Editorial Assistant

£16 - 20k: Guru Careers: A Graduate Editor / Editorial Assistant is needed to ...

Ashdown Group: Graduate UI Developer - HTML, CSS, Javascript

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Graduate UI Application Developer - ...

Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada