Unextended Sixth Form musings

AS Mocks, 6.1 parent-teacher discussions, some gubernatorial chats about the post-2015 reforms to A Level and the first evening of 6.1 Extended Project presentations have set some thoughts running about where we are now and what the A Level landscape might look like here from 2015 onward. It is certainly strange that the current 6.1 cohort is the penultimate one to have the AS/A2 experience that has been a fixture since 2000; so, I find myself having unexpected moments of premature nostalgia about the AS system, especially as there is still a good deal of uncertainty about how the post-2015 landscape will shape up.

So, what do we hope to keep from the current system?

1) The sense of purpose and urgency that it gives to life in 6.1

2) The breadth of a 4 subject programme in 6.1

3) The ability to make a decision as to which subject you drop at the end of 6.1

What did we need to lose? The loss of teaching time that came with the original modular vision – so, exam sessions in January and June.

With January modules already disappeared, the original vision of the post-2015 change was that June modules would go entirely too. The outcry against the loss of “co-teachable” AS exams (i.e. ones that you can teach alongside the full A Level) has meant that we will in fact have something resembling the current AS exam from 2015. The blessing and curse here is that it will not count towards the full A Level, but it will be an entirely standalone certificate. So, there is the danger that schools, understandably nervous that without a meaty end of 6.1 exam their 6.1s will revert to the lotus-eating idlers that my generation were in 6.1, will insist that this is taken, even though it will a) be meaningless in certification terms in 75% of cases;  b) throw away the main advantage of the abandoning of modularization, i.e. the increase in teaching time in the summer term. Quite a conundrum!

More on this anon – and on the excellent Extended Project evening.

By Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales Schools


Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.