Having written previously about why I fear Michael Gove’s A level reforms will disadvantage our young people and lower standards rather than raise them, I read with interest in today’s Guardian that Tristram Hunt, Shadow Education Secretary has committed to putting Tory A level reforms “on hold” should Labour win the next election. Although he states that some elements of the new A levels will be retained, crucially, the AS level component will be retained. It remains to be seen which other elements they would chose to keep, but I do hope that coursework, controlled assessment and multiple opportunities to take papers form some part of any new A level introduced under a Labour government.
In the article http://gu.com/p/4vk8p reference is made to the unhappiness of universities and schools and of how the Tory proposals would benefit candidates at independent schools. Retention of the AS system wold be extremely valuable to students from state schools who wish to apply to university. At present these candidates make more progress from GCSE to A level and so often apply to university with GCSE grades that do not reflect their true ability. The AS level allows them to demonstrate this progress to the universities before they apply and so allows them to compete better with their peers at private schools who may well also have good AS levels, but who are statistically more likely to have better GCSE grades.
I will not here disclose my political persuasion and would say that it appears that some current Labour party policy is designed to be reactionary and made for the purposes of political point scoring. However, when Hunt in his speech claims that “The Tories are turning the clock back on social mobility. David Cameron’s regressive policy to end the current AS-level qualification will close the window of opportunity for many young people wanting to go to university,” This is not simply electioneering or opposition for the sake of opposition, on this matter, Labour have a point, and a good one. Gove’s reforms are likely to damage the opportunities of state-educated pupils.