Universities to influence A-levels

The Education Secretary Michael Gove has confirmed that universities will have more influence on A-level exams. The announcement comes amid concerns that the qualifications are failing to prepare teenagers for university.

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Education ministers have 'ignored advice' about A-levels

Pam Tatlow, chief executive of million+, a university think tank, said: "A-level courses and qualifications must be fit for purpose for employers as well as all universities.

"This is a much more complex task than simply getting a few academics together, especially when you bear in mind the huge range of subjects and courses.

"At a meeting with representatives from across higher education, ministers were advised very clearly that universities did not consider that the A-level system was 'broken'.

She added that education ministers "appear to have ignored this advice".

Headmaster warns 'unwise to give universities total control' of A-levels

Peter B Hamilton, headmaster of the private Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School and chairman of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference academic policy committee, said: "A-levels are and will remain the most important examination for young people completing their pre-university education.

"Michael Gove is right to want university input into the much-needed review of A-levels but it would be most unwise to give universities total control.

"Those who teach 16 and 17-year-olds know best what they need, both to expand their knowledge base and develop their study skills, so input from successful sixth-form teachers will be equally important in getting an examination system fit for the 21st century."

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NUT: Disappointing Gove didn't have A-levels discussion with profession

Christine Blower, NUT general secretary, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme it was "a little disappointing" Mr Gove had written to Ofqual "without having had this discussion with the profession".

She said: "There is a lot to commend A-levels, but there is no harm done in having a look at them again.

"What we don't want is to have proposals put to us on a take it or leave it basis."

Schooling inequality a 'national scandal'

Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg
Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg Credit: PA

It is a "national scandal" that poorer pupils are lagging up to a year behind their richer classmates in their schooling, shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg is expected to warn later.

In a speech to the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) annual conference in Manchester, Mr Twigg will say: "In other words, being a poor pupil in a poor classroom is the equivalent of being left a year behind. This is a national scandal.

"I know there are inequalities in our health system, but if poorer patients were left to linger on waiting lists for an extra year there would be a huge outcry."

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Universities 'change teaching styles for underprepared students'

Students
Students 'need extra help' to start university Credit: PA

Students are not being prepared for university by their A-level studies, according to a new survey.

Three fifths of universities say they are having to provide extra "support" classes focusing on issues such as poor writing skills.

Three quarters of those questioned said that they have had to alter the way they teach to accommodate students who are not ready for university study.

The survey comes as universities are set to be given new powers to set A-levels for the first time in 30 years.