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Ofqual crackdown on A Level resits

Students starting their AS and A Level exams next September will only be able to sit exams in the summer under Ofqual’s crackdown on resits.

The regulator is also considering further changes to the system, including more higher education input into the design of A Levels.

Glenys Stacey, Ofqual’s chief regulator, said the move builds on support it received in a consultation that was launched earlier this year.

Stacey explained: “The consultation followed on from Ofqual’s  research into perceptions of A levels. This showed that the qualifications are considered to be largely fit for purpose but that there were some structural changes that could be made to improve them.

“There were also concerns expressed by teachers, employers and universities over what they term a resit culture. Teachers in particular said that A level students approach examinations with the expectation that they will always get a second chance. Making improvements in these key areas is what this first phase is about and it has been widely welcomed by higher education and by many schools and colleges. The next phase will consider further structural changes to strengthen the A level, how higher education will be involved in A levels, and content changes where stakeholders deem that they are necessary.”

However, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) warned of the impact that restricting resists could have on those who are forced to miss periods of education through long-term illness or disability, caring for a parent or sibling, or as a result of violence in their family.

Jill Stokoe, ATL’s education policy adviser said: “Re-sits makes it easier for them to pick up their studies after an enforced absence and to return to a topic at a later date.

“While there are arguments in favour of end of study assessment, Ofqual must be careful not to diminish the life chances of the most disadvantaged pupils.  We believe that the current opportunities for re-sits should be retained for those candidates that need them.”

Toni Pearce, NUS Vice President (Further Education), echoed these concerns in a statement released today.

“These announcements from Ofqual represent a return to a 1950s draconian style education system where your entire future is based on your performance on one day, with no second chances or room for an off day,” said Pearce.

“We need an education system which values learning, not merely an accreditation system that certifies people once a year.”

Natalie Thornhill

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