October 20 2014 Latest news:

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 15°C

min temp: 11°C

Five-day forecast

Only best pupils will get places at top Camden sixth form as tough new A-level criteria introduced

Headteacher Sam White says 'gold standard' A-levels may not be the best path for all pupils. Picture: Nigel Sutton Headteacher Sam White says 'gold standard' A-levels may not be the best path for all pupils. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Thursday, August 21, 2014
7:00 AM

This year’s “toughest ever” A-level exams have forced Camden’s largest sixth form to tighten entry requirements and only accept the brightest students in the wake of a controversial government shake-up.

To send a link to this page to a friend, you must be logged in.

Prospective pupils at La Swap sixth form consortium, made up of four Camden state secondaries, will be pushed to achieve mostly B grades as a minimum requirement at GCSE in order to gain a place to study A-levels from 2015.

Students currently need C grades at GCSE to sit three A-levels and a mixture of B and C grades to take four.

William Ellis School headteacher Sam White said the decision was made in the face of “increasingly challenging” A-levels – a perceived result of government A-level reforms.

The headteacher, who leads the sixth form consortium alongside the heads of Parliament Hill, Acland Burghley and La Sainte Union schools, said: “We will require stiffer entry requirements. These A-levels are tougher than they have ever been.

“There’s no point getting pupils onto courses if they are going to fail because they won’t get onto the next step.”

Stricter entry requirements are already in force for September’s A-level cohort.

In previous years, a student could keep their sixth form place if they failed to get a C grade in English language or maths but from September onwards pupils will only be accepted if they meet this minimum requirement.

From next year the requirements will become tougher still and students will need to get mostly B grades at GCSE.

Mr White has made clear that pupils who achieve A and B grades will be best placed to study A-levels.

He added that the changes are a response to reforms, which will see students sit all exams at the end of a two-year course from 2015.

The consortium is to offer a wider range of alternative BTEC qualifications to plug any gap in education opportunities for young people.

“A-levels are seen as the gold standard, so pupils’ ambition may not match up with the courses they want to do, even if they are not the best courses for them,” said Mr White.

“That’s why we have to work with young people and their parents to say that it is important to be aspirational and to aim high, but it’s also important they take the right next step.”

He revealed the news on A-level results day last Thursday after the consortium reported a dip in A-level grades in line with a national decline – the first for 32 years.

The fall is thought to be a result of this year’s scrapping of January exams, which previously allowed students to re-sit papers in June before getting final results in August.

LaSwap sixth form had a four per cent fall in A* to C grades compared to last year, from 75.8 per cent to 71 per cent – although Camden as a borough defied the national decline.

At Camden’s state schools 79 per cent of A-level entries gained A* to C grades, compared with 76.5 per cent nationally.

Highgate School headteacher Adam Pettitt agreed with Mr White’s concerns that many students will not be able to cope with tougher A-levels.

He said: “The national system is supposed to facilitate all 18-year-olds, but are these pupils getting lost in the system because rigorous measures are being re-introduced? I don’t think that question is being answered.”

* For more A-level coverage see pages 6-7 and our special nine-page supplement.

Share this article

0 comments

Comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hampstead and Highgate Express visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hampstead and Highgate Express staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Forgotten your password?

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hampstead and Highgate Express account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Click here to read the Digital Edition of the Ham&High on screen
Use our Wedding site to help you plan your big day!
At WeddingSite we know how much you have to organise for your wedding day, that's why we have designed a set of FREE, simple-to-use tools to make the planning process easy & hassle-free. FIND OUT MORE
Find a date using our online dating and friend finder
You can meet new friends, find romance or simply meet up online with people sharing similar interests and hobbies. FIND OUT MORE
Find a local business using our online directory search
Need a plumber? Or a florist? Or anything else? Search our business directory to find Hampstead businesses in just a few seconds. FIND OUT MORE
Family notices from the Ham&High, with readers' tributes
In memoriam, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, best wishes & special days. FIND OUT MORE