The Education Whirlpool: A-levels, careers advice and evidence-based policy


As usual in the world of education policy everything happens at once!

Today the English Education Minister, Michael Gove, made it public that he wants to reform the main university entry qualification in England, the A-level. The Twittersphere has been full of reactions to this ranging across the political spectrum.

So currently we in England are going through the following qualifications related changes:

  • a revised National Curriculum (primary content published, still awaiting secondary content)
  • revised core GCSE qualifications usually taken at age 16 (awaiting outcomes of consultation)
  • revised A-level qualifications splitting AS levels from A2 levels, with the former worth half the latter
  • a new post16 mathematics qualification to cater for students who need more statistical skills
  • all modular examinations gradually moving to end-of-course examinations

I’ve probably skipped a few but that’s enough for the time being!  Let’s hope it is all being coordinated strategically at the appropriate level – I personally favour this happening as close to local needs as possible.

Also today, the House of Commons Education Select Committee published a report on its inquiry into the state of the schools careers service in England.

I had been expecting this report and it was pleasantly welcoming to see how much ground it covers, which you might argue is the other side of the coin to qualifications issues i.e. students need to do well in subjects, but they also need to know which subjects to do well in.

If I had to pick out one recommendation in this report it is that all schools should publish an annual careers plan to show how well they are providing careers advice, in a world with flexible school budgets.

In terms of the evidence base what was the difference between the two approaches publicised today?

The Select Committee report included a wide range of expert evidence which was examined on a non-partisan basis and most of it listened to.

The A-level decision was made on the basis of a report commissioned from the Government’s own appointed regulator, in which the Minister clearly gives a steer informed by specific members of the highly selective Russell Group of universities.

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3 thoughts on “The Education Whirlpool: A-levels, careers advice and evidence-based policy

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  2. Pingback: We need better careers advice in schools to support social mobility @ofstednews #CEIAG | behrfacts

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