3 vs 4 A-Levels?

 3 vs 4 A-Levels?
Posted: Monday, March 20, 2017 @ 03:40 PM
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Joined: 8 July 2009
Posts: 128

Hi all,

I'm interested to know what stance your school are taking regarding how many a-levels students take...

Our school currently leave it up to individual subjects whether they run it as a two year course or enter for the AS, but I don't think this works as the student is then forced (unless they drop with no qualification) to drop the subject they sit an exam in rather than the one they might struggle with the most - and how many of them know in September of year 12 which is going to be their favourite/least favourite, easiest/hardest subject?!

I have a student in this very predicament - takes 4 subjects, wants to drop History, but will leave with nothing if he does so will probably drop Psych, which he enjoys!

I think many schools are opting for the 3 subject for two years route, plus EPQ as a 'replacement' for the 4th subject...at least this way whatever their thoughts on a particular subject as they progress through the course, they'll know they are doing it for the full two years.

Any thoughts...

Thanks,

Gemma


Posted: Monday, March 20, 2017 @ 03:58 PM
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We are 3 A levels plus extended project unless exceptional circumstances where they will be allowed to do 4. All subjects are linear though, with additionally one AS-only maths class for medics etc.

Posted: Monday, March 20, 2017 @ 04:46 PM
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Joined: 8 December 2008
Posts: 692

We are 4 subjects in AS year with the intention of dropping one at the end of year 12.  However, some students drop out early because they can't cope, and some keep 4 on through A2.   Some students if they do badly at AS exams drop subjects and pick up another AS alongside 2 x A2.  It all depends on what their career choice is/university subject choice, and their inclination.

Posted: Monday, March 20, 2017 @ 05:22 PM
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Joined: 8 July 2009
Posts: 128

So, Wendy, are all year 12's entered for all AS's then? 

Posted: Monday, March 20, 2017 @ 07:31 PM
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Joined: 8 December 2008
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Yes they are and that's the way the school want it.   It does allow year 13 students to do an AS mixed in with year 12 students.   Its hard teaching both AS and A2 linear, but my feeling is that it works for the students, and the students don't mind doing the exams at AS and then again at A2 - none of them complain!

Posted: Monday, March 20, 2017 @ 07:35 PM
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Joined: 1 November 2007
Posts: 1896

All students from 2017 will only take the linear exams. Only the most able encouraged to take 4. We run the EPQ in the summer term with students completing the bulk of the work over the summer. It's optional and this weeds out students who can't prganise themselves enough to complete the work.

Posted: Tuesday, March 21, 2017 @ 08:17 AM
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Joined: 13 January 2009
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We're exactly like you Gemma, all start with 4 and it is up to individual departments whether or not to enter for AS. We've decided not to enter for AS as teaching hours were also cut this year. However, I'm now worried that we won't have the leverage of AS results to weed out unsuitable students. Also, a concern that students who drop a subject at the end of Year 12 will have nothing to show for it. If I was head of 6th form I'd change to all doing 3 linear with EPQ, much neater system.

Posted: Tuesday, March 21, 2017 @ 10:00 AM
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Joined: 8 July 2009
Posts: 128

Thanks all.

I really don't mind doing the AS/A2 route - I've entered all mine this year as I didn't last year and I don't think they took their end of year exam/mock seriously at all. Mine don't seem too 'bothered' at being entered as it's what they're used to following their GCSE's I guess.

I think the difficulty is where schools are running it as per mine and Debs. If some departments choose to enter for the AS and others don't then students are a little stuck and as you say, Deb, potentially leave with nothing.

I think either 3 linear with EPQ, as per Deb and Jenny, or ALL departments must enter for AS's as per Wendy.

Thanks for your help :)

Posted: Tuesday, March 21, 2017 @ 11:41 AM
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At my college students are encouraged to do 3 then top up with EPQ if they need it.

I'm not sure how I feel about them only doing 3 as the weaker ones if they fail an AS end up having to do another subject. Also in all subjects we enter their students into the AS exams and to be honest I think it is the best option. Students don't mind doing the AS and then the A2 again as they take both seriously. It's also good practice for the full A Level. We don't let our students back to do the full A Level if they don't get at least a D at AS. This motivates them and they feel good that they can use their AS grades for UCAS points. 

We haven't struggled with time this year as myself and the other psych teacher have only taught to the spec as I think last year we 'overtaught' a lot of the spec. We split the teaching half and half and we both have about a week left of content so time for revision!

Posted: Tuesday, March 21, 2017 @ 12:02 PM
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Joined: 1 November 2007
Posts: 1896

I am actually looking forward to linear exams. We only have 4 hours a week and time for the AS is extremely tight. We are then left in limbo whilst students are on study leave followed by w/experience and then the joy that is Glastonbury (I'm in Somerset so about half the students go from Wed to Mon and half of those left don;t bother to come into school, join that to 2 days when it takes twice as long to get to work as the rest of the world descend,,,, sorry, rant over!).

I suspect more schools and colleges will head for linear simply to save costs. We are expecting a cut in budget of 8% over next three years as an academy and post 16 funding is being cut further (Where else will they get money for the new technical education?) Exams are not cheap unfortunately.

Posted: Thursday, March 23, 2017 @ 11:28 AM
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Joined: 18 September 2009
Posts: 559

All students on 3 A levels over two year course.  No AS levels after this year. Some do 4 because of EPQ.

Posted: Thursday, March 23, 2017 @ 11:31 AM
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Joined: 18 September 2009
Posts: 559

ps SO GLAD we are on linear two year course!!
So much better teaching year 12 this year, without the stress of the dreadful new spec AS!!!
Much more relaxed, taught topics I want, order that works best for us....for example teaching paper 1, plus only two Approaches in year 1 (Bio and Beh) . Also in year 1 we are doing TOTAL course reseach methods and stats, so we start year 2 in a good place.