A Level Reform
At a national level, the A level system is undergoing a period of significant reform. All schools are therefore in the position of planning how they will adapt what they intend to offer in response to the national reforms.
A levels have previously all been divided up into Advanced Subsidiary subjects (AS) in the Lower Sixth (Year 12) and A2s (A-level second year) in the Upper Sixth (Year 13). The AS units contributed to the overall A level qualification and students would take some examinations in the summer term of both years in the Sixth Form. It was possible to retake examinations and, at the end of the Upper Sixth, the best marks in all modules would be added to decide an individual’s overall grade in each subject.
When students join the Sixth Form in 2016/17 most A level courses will have been reformed: for those courses the final A level grade is to be awarded purely on the basis of examinations taken at the end of the Upper Sixth, which will assess content from the entire two year course. The only subjects that will still work on the old unreformed A level model at that point are Mathematics/ Further Mathematics, Politics, and Design and Technology.
The Yarm School Curriculum
In light of the changes to A levels students will now concentrate on three A level subjects from the start of the course. Given the more rigorous new courses and removal of resit opportunities, we have adapted our curriculum to provide all students with increased contact time for each subject – 6 lessons each week which is an increase of about 20%. The aim is to ensure the most successful outcomes in the three chosen A level subjects, thereby supporting applications to competitive university courses. More able mathematicians will be able to take Further Mathematics A level alongside their three other A levels
We will also continue to ensure that our pupils receive the breadth that is rightly expected in a school that ‘educates for life’ by running an enrichment and extension programme alongside the three main A level choices. Within that programme we will use some time to support wider cultural enrichment and the practical PSHEE (Personal, Social and Health and Economic Education) aims that ensure our pupils are prepared fully for the challenges of life, allowing for the development of the character and resilience needed to cope with them. We expect the majority of students to complete the Extended Project Qualification as part of the extension programme.