Broader baccalaureate should replace A-Levels, says EDSK

A new report by the EDSK education think tank has suggested that A-levels are too narrow and should be replaced with a three-year baccalaureate that combines academic, technical and applied courses.

This may mean that all students would be required to study English and maths up to the age of 18, as other countries do.

The baccalaureate would allow students to retain more breadth and only gradually specialise over the three-year programme, rather than narrowing choices down to three A-level subjects.

The EDSK report says the dominance of A-levels in the English education system has caused applied and technical courses to be seen as second-class status.

Under the proposals, A-levels, BTecs, T-levels and apprenticeships would be combined into the single baccalaureate, enabling students to mix and match courses which would be marked using the same grading and accountability system for all.

Tom Richmond, EDSK director and former adviser at the Department for Education, said: “Given that A-levels were originally created to prevent students from specialising too early and only studying a narrow range of subjects, it is ironic that this famous qualification brand has never fulfilled this mission and might have made the situation even worse.

“No other developed country would describe studying just three subjects for two years as a ‘gold standard’. On the contrary, other major economies typically insist that students take around six to eight subjects in their final years at school or college to ensure they receive a broad and balanced education.”

Richmond added: “If the current government is serious about boosting technical education, it must end the political obsession with A-levels by introducing a baccalaureate that creates a level playing field for a broad range of rigorous academic, applied and technical courses.”


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