Top results for A-level pupils but change is on the horizon - with tables and map
MANY youngsters who sat and passed their A-levels last summer are already well into new careers or their studies at university.
And, thanks to them, dozens of schools across Derbyshire and Staffordshire broke previous records with improved exam results and points scores.
Among them were Swanwick Hall School, Trent College and Chellaston Academy – where there was a 100% pass rate, with 29% of results at either A* or A grades.
But this could be one of the last years for A-levels to remain in their current format, following proposed changes to the gold standard system by Education Secretary Michael Gove,
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His plans to separate AS-levels – which are studied in the lower sixth – from A-levels has been condemned by leading academics.
One of the main changes will be that teenagers taking A-levels will no longer sit exams after one year.
Cambridge University has stated its opposition to the plan and said knowing the results of AS-levels was crucial in increasing the number of graduates from state schools – because they are the "most reliable indicator" of an applicant's potential.
But Mr Gove said he was worried there was "too much assessment and too little learning". He told an education select committee this week: "It seemed to me that one of the most effective ways we could encourage the sort of deep thinking that we want to have in people – not just who are going on to university but who are going to be entering an increasingly testing and sophisticated world of work – was to move towards a linear A-level.
"But there are certain gains, of course, in the flexibility which the AS-level has given – so we didn't want to completely abolish that.
"We thought the best way forward was a stand-alone qualification."
The new A-levels will be taught from September 2015, which is the same time as GCSEs are set to be replaced with new English Baccalaureate certificates.
Deborah Lawson, general secretary of the Derby-based Voice teaching union, accused Mr Gove of more political interference in the education system.
She said: "Mr Gove states the primary purpose of A-levels is to prepare students for degree-level study. However, university entrance is not the sole function of A- levels. They have also become a benchmark of a level of education that employers require.
"Businesses must be involved in drawing up new syllabuses and qualifications where relevant, so they meet workplace needs. We think AS should be in its present form, as it adds breadth to the curriculum and enables students to make informed choices of subjects."
Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "2015 looks set to be the year when everything changes in schools and for young people, with both GCSEs and A-levels being replaced or altered.
"This is an unmanageable level of change which could lead to a collapse of the system."
Under the current system, sixth formers often sit four or five AS-levels and take exams after one year – before deciding which to drop and which to continue on to A-level.
AS-levels, and the two-stage system, were introduced by the last Labour government under the Curriculum 2000 reforms. The new proposals effectively move the A-level system back to where it was before Curriculum 2000.
The Russell Group – which represents a group of 24 leading universities – is to set up an organisation which will provide Ofqual. the qualifications watchdog, with advice on A-level content.
It will focus on the subjects which are required to gain entry to a top university.
Results for Derby schools
Results for Derbyshire schools