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Reformed AS and A-Level Content

Volume 589: debated on Thursday 18 December 2014

The Government are reforming AS and A-level qualifications to ensure they are academically rigorous and provide students with the knowledge and understanding to prepare them for higher education, and employment.

The Government have already published subject content for the first group of A-levels to be reformed. Today I am publishing revised content for A-levels in ancient languages, modern foreign languages, geography, mathematics, and further mathematics. The content for these A-levels was recommended by the A-level content advisory board (ALCAB), drawing on advice from subject experts, universities and subject associations.

By giving university academics a leading role, we are making sure that these qualifications will provide students with the skills and knowledge needed for progression to undergraduate study. I am grateful to ALCAB for their expert advice, and I am accepting their recommendations.

In ancient languages there is a clearer requirement to study literary texts in the original language.

In modern foreign languages the content has been strengthened, with new requirements for students to translate unseen material both into and out of the target language at both AS and A-level.

In geography, content has been updated to reflect the approaches to geography taken by universities and geographical organisations, with a better balance between physical and human geography.

In mathematics, all the content is now prescribed in detail. Students will be required to study both mechanics and statistics. There is an increased emphasis on mathematical problem solving to ensure students understand the underlying mathematical concepts.

In further mathematics, the A-level builds on the mathematics content with 50% of content prescribed. AS-level includes new minimum requirements for matrices and complex numbers, with 30% of content prescribed.

Copies of the content for reformed A-levels are available.

Alongside these announcements, Ofqual is today confirming its decisions on how these subjects should be assessed, including the proportion of non-examination assessment and the assessment objectives for each subject.

These reformed A-levels will be ready for first teaching in September 2016, apart from mathematics and further mathematics for which first teaching is deferred until September 2017. This will give mathematics students the best opportunity to benefit from the new qualifications at GCSE and A-level. The decision is informed by advice from ALCAB and Ofqual’s chief regulator.

The Department has also consulted upon the content for GCSEs in art and design, dance, music, computer science, physical education (PE), citizenship, cooking and nutrition, design and technology, and drama, and A-levels in dance, music and physical education and drama and theatre, and is currently consulting on proposed content for GCSE and A-level religious studies. For all these subjects we will publish content early next year.