Quick reunion for A and AS-levels

Tristram Hunt has brushed off concerns over his plan to “recouple” AS-levels and A-levels, saying “parliament is sovereign and if we are elected, we’ll do it”.

He was responding to questions over the feasibility of his plan, if elected, to quickly reverse the government’s decoupling of the qualifications, due to take effect from next September.

His comments follow an intervention from Glenys Stacey, chief regulator at Ofqual, earlier this month, in which she said it would take two years to recouple the qualifications.

But Mr Hunt has vowed to carry out the change quickly if elected, and cited two recent interventions on the topic as support for his plan.

Professor Richard Craster, the chair of the A-level Content Advisory Board’s (ALCAB) maths panel, last week said that effectively scrapping AS-levels could seriously affect take-up of the subject at university level.

And in comments to The Daily Telegraph, the head of admissions at the University of Cambridge, Mike Sewell, recently warned that the government’s reform could mean that students apply for universities that they will not be qualified for – as they would no longer have the “reality check” that AS-levels provided.

Asked about his plans to recouple the qualifications, Mr Hunt said: “I am going to do it, and I am going to do it quickly. “Given that Cambridge say our policies are right, given that [on Sunday] ALCAB said our policy is right, my view is that if it is good enough for one of the best universities in the United Kingdom and one of the top five in the world, then it’s good enough for the Labour party.”

Turning the AS-level into a standalone qualification, with no bearing on A-level results, is expected to significantly reduce the number of students sitting it.

The government argues that decoupling the qualifications will increase rigour and free up more teaching time.