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Loss of AS levels in their current form would be bad for languages

 ... and all other subjects for that matter.

Back around 2000, when the last major reform of A-levels took place, there was a battle between those who wanted a broader post 16 curriculum and those who wished to maintain the "gold standard" of three A-levels. The second group feared that broadening the curriculum would entail a watering down of subject content and produce students less prepared for university courses.

The "gold standard" folk won the day, if not the argument. We ended up with a dog's breakfast of four. AS levels in lower sixth and three A2s in upper sixth (apart from a minority of students who take four A2s). This is still, by international standards, a remarkably narrow curriculum.

At least it meant that more students would be tempted to continue doing a language for a year after GCSE and, indeed, this is what happened, even if the numbers continuing to complete a full A-level courses continued to dwindle.

Michael Gove's reform of A-levels, making AS levels a stand-alone course pitched at the same difficulty level as A-level makes it likely that many schools will choose to drop AS levels altogether. My guess is that schools focus on helping students get three good A-level grades and that is what universities will want to see. Maybe a minority of schools and students will want to beef up their value-added scores and curriculum vitae with added AS grades.

Fewer students will continue with a language beyond GCSE and, in all probability  fewer will take full A-levels, especially given the current popularity of STEM subjects.

This reform is bad for languages and the reduced diet at AS level makes it likely that all subjects will  see a decline in take-up in the lower sixth year. Universities do not like it and Stephen Twigg has said Labour will reverse the reform.

Of course, what  nobody seems interested in is a genuine broadening of the post 16 curriculum. Pity.

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