The proposed changes to the British Curriculum A-Level system announced this week by UK Education Secretary Michael Gove have received an unenthusiastic response from head teachers and university leaders. From 2015 pupils will take exams at the end of two-year courses. AS-levels will remain, but as stand-alone exams, and a group of leading universities will play a bigger role in maintaining standards.
The organisation representing leading UK private schools, the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference, called the proposals "rushed and incoherent" and said they were driven by a "timetable based on electoral politics rather than principles of sound implementation".
Strong criticism has also been issued by the University of Cambridge to the changes to AS-levels. In a statement the University said that the changes will "... jeopardise over a decade's progress towards fairer access to the University of Cambridge".
In a letter to exam regulator Ofqual, Mr Gove said A-levels in their current form did not help students to develop a "deep understanding" of their subjects. Instead modular units will be scrapped, with the qualification returning to exams taken at the end of a two-year course.
Students in Scotland have a different exam system while the devolved governments in Wales and Northern Ireland will make their own decisions about whether to implement the changes to A-levels.