TEACHERS and students have “struggled to get to grips” with changes to A-level exams, unions warned yesterday as school leavers collected their results.
The national proportion of As and A*s rose for the first time in six years, with boys scoring better than girls for the first time in almost two decades.
The Tories have pushed through an extensive shake-up of 13 A-level subjects in England, ditching coursework and modular tests in favour of final exams.
There has been a drop in top results among these subjects, according to official stats.
Association of Teachers and Lecturers policy adviser Jill Stokoe warned: “Rushing in exam reforms has meant that schools have had little time to prepare, and this year teachers and pupils have struggled to get to grips with the changes to A-levels, with no practice exam papers, fewer available textbooks and no mark-schemes.”
Another teachers union, NASUWT, said kids and their teachers had achieved remarkable results in spite of “the upheaval to syllabuses and year-on-year cuts to resources.”
Union general secretary Chris Keates said: “In the face of such turbulence, it is a tribute to the hard work and dedication of teachers and students that standards overall have been maintained.
“There are some early indications that the move to greater examined content in these qualifications may be having an impact on the outcomes achieved by some learners, although more examination of the data will be required before any definitive conclusions can be reached.”
The subjects with reformed syllabuses are art, biology, business, chemistry, computer science, economics, English language, English language and literature, English literature, history, physics, psychology and sociology. Other courses are set to be altered in future.
Association of School and College Leaders general secretary Geoff Barton said: “I don’t think the difficulty is necessarily in the change of content, it is in the way they are being assessed.
“It’s the fact that you haven’t got a staging post at the end of Year 12, or as you had a few years ago, modules at the end of each term.”
Early data also showed a 2 per cent drop in the number of students accepted onto degree courses for this autumn, compared to the same point last year.