Education Secretary Michael Gove’s latest plans for educational reform, which would see A-level exams set with oversight by Russell Group Universities, has been met with scathing criticism from both sixth-form establishments and some University bodies.
Gove’s proposals, which he recently revealed to the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual), would see far less government involvement and see Russell Group Universities working alongside examination boards in setting curriculum and exams, in a bid to ensure that students are fully prepared for a university education following completion of sixth-form studies.
The move has been described as a “quick fix gimmick” by some, with Gove coming in for criticism over his “obsession” with Russell Group universities at the expense of other educational establishments. University think tank Million+ has challenged whether A-levels actually need reforming at all, coming on Twitter to say that “Research from Ofqual confirms that A-levels [are] fit for purpose for [University] entry, so why does Michael Gove think that A-levels need reform?” Pam Tatlow, CEO of the group, has also gone on the record with concerns over the financial implications of the move, considering the huge range of subjects offered at A-level, “By promoting reform without any additional funding the costs of involving academics are likely to be passed onto schools by the Exam Boards.”
The Russell Group, however, has come forward in support of the proposals, which it thinks will help to solve “a range of concerns” over aspects such as modularisation and re-sits. Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group, believes that Russell Group involvement will see a progression towards more university-focused topics in science subjects and more objectivity and critical assessment in arts A-levels, “We hope our involvement will help to shape A-levels in a direction that will benefit all students.”