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Plans to abolish British A Levels and teach A Level Mathematics to all Students until Age 18 shelved by British Prime Minister Sunak
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British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has today rowed back on mooted plans to abolish A Levels in favour of an IB Diploma type post-16 replacement British qualification. In his statement of intent today, which included a strong focus on education that surprised commentators given the many crises facing Great Britain currently in its grappling with inflation, strikes, healthcare, immigration and the Ukraine war, Prime Minister Sunak confirmed his plans to retain A Levels as part of his plans for the teaching of Post-16 Mathematics.

Yesterday it was rumoured that Mr Sunak also planned to introduce the A level study of Mathematics for all children in British Education, but this idea was firmly rejected today. Number 10 issued a statement confirming:

“The government does not envisage making maths A-Level compulsory for all 16-year-olds.”

Instead, the focus will be on ensuring that all students “should study some maths up to the age of 18.”

Sunak has two targets in sight:

(1) to tackle the 60% of disadvantaged students in the UK who “do not have basic maths skills at 16.”

(2) “to equip young people with the quantitative and statistical skills that they will need for the jobs of today and the future. This includes having the right skills to feel confident with finances in later life, including finding the best mortgage deal or savings rate.”

Many commentators have argued that this is a far less radical approach than previously envisaged. Mr Sunak had previously mooted, as above, the launch of a Baccalaureate qualification in post-16 education with implicit downgrading of the importance of the GCSE qualification.

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Today, British education segments children into a number of pathways which all in fact already include Mathematics teaching to age 18 – except in A Levels for those students who choose not to study Mathematics or a related qualification. As students who choose the academic A Level route are already expected to secure a strong grade in GCSE Mathematics, critics argue that Sunak’s plans now amount to little more than rhetoric.

For British curriculum students in the UAE then, all that has been promised is to look at a qualification for students that will provide greater practical skills in Mathematics including “strengthening the Core Maths qualifications” in conjunction with “more innovative options.” As T Levels roll out internationally, it is expected that this focus on practical maths will also gain greater traction.

Whatever changes are planned for British education globally, they will not take effect before 2025, and are dependent on the re-election of a Tory administration. Many believe this is now very unlikely.

For those educators in the UAE who are committed to radical reform of British education, today’s rowing back will be greeted with concern and as something of yet another wasted opportunity. For proponents of the “gold standard” A Level qualification, however, today’s news will be greeted with relief that any change to British education globally has now been kicked squarely into the long grass.

You can read more on one view that we should abolish the GCSE qualification here.

You can read a fascinating exchange between proponents of A Level and the IB here

Sunak gold standard A Level

and, by Matthew Farthing, Principal of Nord Anglia International School in Dubai, here.

Sunak abolish A Levels in favour of IB

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

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