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EDITIONS
Sunday, 25 March, 2001, 23:48 GMT 00:48 UK
Sixth formers opt for new exams
sixth form college library
Students are encouraged to mix arts and sciences
More than two thirds of lower sixth form students will be taking four of the new AS-level exams next year, a survey says.


The days of the traditional higher education applicant with three A-levels are gone

Tony Higgins, Ucas
Nine out of 10 students will then go on to take three A-levels in their second year.

A survey of 1,300 schools and colleges in England, Wales and Northern Ireland by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (Ucas) found that 70% planned to take four of the advanced subsidiary qualifications.

A separate survey by a head teachers' union suggests that teaching group sizes have increased dramatically to accommodate this.

The Ucas survey indicates to universities and higher education colleges how many applicants will be presenting different types of qualifications when they send in their application forms.

But the Secondary Heads Association says it is concerned that universities have not yet told schools how they will adjust their admissions criteria as a result.

Wider range

More than half of the schools and colleges are encouraging students to take subjects from contrasting disciplines.

So science students will be studying at least one arts subject and arts students at least one science subject.

metalwork
One in seven is to take a vocational A-level
Ucas's chief executive, Tony Higgins, said: "Our survey reveals a huge move away from the traditional A-level programme of post-16 study.

"Next year more than half the traditional A-level students will also have key skills qualifications in communication, application of number and information technology, along with four or more AS-levels and, in many cases, an extra general studies paper.

"All this adds up to better-informed students with a greater breadth of knowledge than ever before.

Challenge for universities

"The days of the traditional higher education applicant with three A-levels are gone, and the challenge for universities and colleges now is to recognise the wide variety of qualifications coming their way and to reflect this in their entry requirements."


The broader curriculum of four main subjects, instead of three, has led to a marked reduction in the amount of time for independent study

Secondary Heads Association
He said admissions officers would need to consider actual AS results as well as predicted A-level grades.

The survey also found that one in seven students would be doing the new vocational A-levels - formerly Advanced GNVQs.

The most popular subjects are business, health and social care, and information technology.

But the separate survey of maintained and independent schools, by the Secondary Heads Association, indicates that very few of the independents are offering vocational A-levels.

Union concerns

"In all schools, the broader curriculum of four main subjects, instead of three, has led to a marked reduction in the amount of time for independent study," the union said.

"Heads are concerned that this will make it more difficult to prepare students for the independent study on which university courses are based."

Its survey suggested an increase in teaching group size in 78% of maintained schools, and in 56% of independent schools.

The normal maximum size of lower sixth teaching groups was 23. The largest in an independent school was 22, but the largest in a state school was 40.

It was also "a matter of great concern" to schools that few universities had indicated how they would change admissions criteria for 2002.

See also:

28 Feb 01 | UK Education
12 Dec 00 | UK Education
11 Dec 00 | UK Education
04 Sep 00 | UK Education
25 Jun 00 | UK Education
19 Mar 99 | UK Education
Links to more Education stories are at the foot of the page.


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