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Students' and parents' perceptions of proposed A-level reforms


In light of discussions and Ofqual consultation on A-level reform, CERP researchers spoke to some of those likely to be affected by changes to the current system: students and their parents. Although a small sample, the focus groups provide some insight into how the proposed changes are viewed by these key stakeholders in a way that we believe has yet to be systematically carried out elsewhere.

The Ofqual consultation emphasised three main areas of focus: the involvement of universities in A-level content and design; limiting resit opportunities and abolishing January exams; and whether AS-levels should continue to be offered. The CERP focus groups considered these questions, as well as issues surrounding the availability of past papers for students and the relative merits of modular and linear course structures.

All groups were broadly supportive of university involvement in the design of A-level specifications and exams, with undergraduate students in particular believing this would help reduce the perceived gap between A-level and university. Participants generally felt that a system of multiple resit opportunities was inappropriate, and that a good alternative would be for resit opportunities to be reduced. Participants across all groups generally viewed January exams positively. While A-level and undergraduate students struggled to comment on the ‘value’ of AS-levels, parents felt they fulfilled important functions and should be retained.