Michael Gove's reforms could spell the end of AS levels

Poll shows that less than one in seven believe the exam will still be valuable for pupils under Education Secretary's reforms

Britain’s independent schools will ditch the AS level exam if Education Secretary Michael Gove goes ahead with his controversial school reforms.

A poll of 320 leading independent schools shows that less than one in seven believe the exam will still be valuable for pupils if the reforms are introduced in September 2015.

Under the reforms, the AS level will no longer be an integral part of the A-level syllabus - taken by teenagers at the end of the sixth-form.

Instead, they will be a standalone exam taken alongside A-levels at the end of the sixth-form - meaning that they will be sat too late for university admissions officers to take them into account when assessing applicants. Cambridge University, in particular, believes they give crucial evidence of applicants’ sixth-form performance.

“Very few schools, state or private, have the resources to offer full A-level courses as well as separate AS levels in most subjects,” said Jim Stearns, head of Shoreham College, Sussex, and chairman of the Independent Schools Association - which conducted the survey.

“Universities recognise this and most won’t require applicants to have sat additional AS levels.”

Neil Roskilly, ISA’s chief executive, added:  “The likely result is that AS levels will largely disappear, which is a great shame. Universities find the current AS levels extremely useful as they provided a real measure of a student’s ability after one year of study.

“This is vital evidence for allocating university places, as schools’ own predictions are often very unreliable. We are also likely to see an explosion of university entrance tests - many of which will be quite variable.”

In all, only 13.5 per cent of respondents said they would still value the AS level exam after the reforms were brought in.