Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

The End Is Nigh for 'Too Easy' A-Level

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

The End Is Nigh for 'Too Easy' A-Level

Article excerpt

General studies scrapped after falling short of 'high' standards

It has been around since the 1950s, easing the passage to university for generations of pupils in return for very little revision. But TES can reveal that the Department for Education has decided to abolish A-level general studies.

The subject was first taught in 1954, and by 1993 had grown to become the second most popular A-level. Now the government has decided that general studies does not meet the "high" standards being introduced under its exam reform programme. A decision to scrap the subject's younger cousin - critical thinking - had already been taken.

"It has not been possible to draft content for AS- and A-level general studies and critical thinking to meet the requirements of reformed AS-levels and A-levels," a DfE spokesperson told TES. "As a result, they will not be available for teaching in 2017."

The subject - in which many students sit an exam after relatively little or no formal teaching - has long been dogged by suggestions that it is less valuable than other subjects, fuelled in part by many Russell Group universities accepting it only as an extra on top of other A-levels.

'Inflated' scores

Earlier this month, free-schools charity the New Schools Network revealed research showing that the top 500 state schools accounted for almost 90 per cent of entries to general studies and critical thinking. NSN director Nick Timothy claimed schools were using the A-levels to "inflate" their scores and were failing to provide "quality and rigour" (bit.ly/InflateResults).

Other research suggests the qualification is harder than it has been given credit for. …

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