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Gold standard A Levels to be scrapped, GCSEs downgraded, with new Baccalaureate qualification replacement to be called “Advanced British Standard.” Full information…

The UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, today confirmed plans to scrap both British A Levels and (the new replacement for BTEC) T Levels, the latter not currently available in the UAE. The plan is to combine both vocational/technical and academic qualifications in a new Post-16 UK Baccalaureate qualification called the Advanced British Standard [ABS].

Much of the focus to date has been on the requirement for students under the new Baccalaureate system to continue studying English and Mathematics until they are aged 18 years, but it is arguable that the real power of the new qualification will be to remove the prejudice that still exists around technical qualifications which, quite wrongly, are seen as second best to A Levels. Under the new ABS, the distinction will disappear altogether.

In practice, too, the new qualification is arguably more of a repackaging of what exists now, rather than a revolutionary change. Students will be required to study three (or exceptionally four) Major Subjects and two Minor Subjects, maintaining the British focus on depth of study. The new qualifications bears no resemblance to the alternative IB qualification. The Major Subjects are essentially the equivalent of A Levels in depth, and the minor subjects GCSE level.

Under the plans, the existing I/GCSE qualification taken by students at age 16 years is likely to be downgraded in importance and may well end up being recast as qualification conducted online. This would meet many calls by educationalists to reduce the impact of a qualification that was designed for a system in which students could leave school at 16 years of age.

Latest: New information from UK Government on why Gold standard A Levels must be scrapped.

Complete details on the Advanced British Standard follow:



The introduction of the new qualification is dependent, currently, on the UK’s Conservative Party being re-elected following a General Election that must take place by January 2025. This many believe is unlikely. However, whilst the UK’s Labour Party has not yet commented on the proposals, it is not implausible for some variation of the proposals to be adopted should they win power.


It is estimated that the new qualification, whatever its form, will take up to ten years to introduce. In the medium term, however, it may well be that gold standard A Levels, BTECs and T Levels, will disappear altogether – and the I/GCSE end up being a shell of the qualification that it is today.

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About The Author
Jon Westley
Jon Westley is the Editor of and UK. You can email him at jonathanwestley [at]

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