Magazine article Teaching Business & Economics

Teacher Economics and Business Studies after Curriculum 2000: The Teachers' Voice

Magazine article Teaching Business & Economics

Teacher Economics and Business Studies after Curriculum 2000: The Teachers' Voice

Article excerpt

The introduction of the Curriculum 2000 (C2000) reforms (in particular the introduction of Advanced Subsidiary (AS) andA2 qualifications to replace A Levels and Vocational A Levels (AVCEs) to replace Advanced GNVQs) has made a considerable impact on teachers of advanced level courses.

This article is based on some of the interviews in the fifty schools and colleges that form the sample for the Institute of Education/Nuffield Foundation project on the "Broadening of the Advanced Level Curriculum" 1, for which I am the research officer. As part of my interviewing for this project in the summer term 2002, I spoke to ten teachers of Economics and Business Studies (EBS) in a wide variety of schools and colleges across the south of England. They were asked to talk freely about their experience of teaching over the first two years of the C2000. The findings reported in this paper are based on an analysis of these interviews.

When teachers were talking about the impact of C2000, they frequently combined comments on the effects of assessment changes, the increase of overall student programmes, the new structures of qualifications and the negative impact of time constraints caused by these factors. Taken together these create a largely negative effect on teaching and learning. This is demonstrated in the following quote from a teacher in a sixth-- firm college:

There are pros and cons. There's been some good points but I think overriding that it's a fairly bad experience, lots of little things ...............pressure on staff and on students due to the lack of teaching time is probably one of the key issues that we've experienced ......... big chunks out of January for exams, a big chunk out for AS in June in the first year for exams, and a chunk out in January for year two............from my point of view for Business Studies the syllabuses are longer.........much more content and heavy in the AS but not developing as many skills, but then expecting students to have skills above the old modular also have AS coursework, we had A level coursework before, we have AS coursework now,

This was only a small-scale study, based on an opportunity sample, so caution in interpreting the results must be exercised. I have constructed three narrative accounts to illustrate the issues that emerged from the interviews. Readers are invited to compare their own experiences with these.


The EBS teachers in three schools faced a similar set of problems in relation to the AVCE. In order to create a timetable grid that gives students a chance to choose at least four subjects in the first year of advanced level study, and which recognises the intended equal status and size (6 units) of AS/A2 and AVCE, time is reduced per A Level subject from five hours per week to four and a half hours or less. AVCEs are put into single timetable blocks alongside AS level subjects, with a double award taking up just two blocks. This in turn has a number of consequences.

Firstly, the teaching time has dropped from 15-18 hours per week for an old AGNVQ to 9 hours or less for a 12 unit AVCE. However the new exam system means that extra time has to be taken in class to teach directly for the exams. Also the new May 15th deadline for coursework reduces the time available over the two years for completing this work. Prior to C2000 many of the AGNVQ students would have taken the qualification as a complete programme, perhaps with a GCSE re-sit in the first year, and only occasionally with an A Level alongside it.

Now, 9 hours a week cannot possibly be a full programme. So all students have to take other courses (ISP), usually AS/A2s, but sometimes extra AVCEs. They are now in a situation where they are affected by the AS/A2 exam timetable (AE). This means time out for revision and exams and the increased likelihood of seeing the time after AS exams as `down-time'. …

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