Re-examining the examination: the new A Levels

New AS and A Level English specifications trickle, leak or spill into the public domain

Interesting times lie ahead as the new AS and A Level specifications spill into the public domain. I learnt at NATE Conference at the weekend that OCR put its new specifications on their website on Friday.

I’ve had a quick look at the English Literature specs. The OCR summary has a rather disturbing sick rose lying on a book, not sure what to make of that other than something about the death of the author/text/canon/subject…. My impression is that the OCR A2 has a fairly heavy pre-1800 feel, though I may be misreading this, so take a look for yourself if you want.

The WJEC has also put its new course on the web – it has some apparent similarities to OCR, with much longer coursework for AS, at least, with, like OCR, a quite prescribed list of texts in some of the units, and a pre-1800 bias to the A2 course. But again, see for yourself.

I understood from the AQA representative on Saturday that AQA‘s offerings would be up today, Tuesday, though at present (10.00pm), all the English specifications are still ‘coming soon’. Media and sociology are already there!

One thought on “Re-examining the examination: the new A Levels”

  1. There was a great deal of interest in these A Level developments in Jane Bluett’s excellent A Level workshop at the NATE Conference. There was also a general enthusiasm for the creative opportunities opened up by the new QCA criteria – but then the workshop was on ‘Transforming approaches to A Level English Literature’! The general feeling was that certain texts – on all specifications – and certain approaches were currently being done to death, and also that, in one teacher’s words, ‘there’s too much poetry’ (just don’t tell the poets at the conference, who included Jackie Kay). There was some ire about the new ruling from QCA that candidates must use ‘clean texts’ – ‘oh no, not more expense…’, that sort of thing. As if they weren’t glad to get open book exams back, the ungrateful things!

    Most teachers were aware of the changes but hadn’t really thought about them yet – understandably, the present is more pressing. It’s clearly essential to get to the boards’ presentations! Meanwhile, please post your own comments here, and information on any of the courses you know about.

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