Independent schools reject modular A-levels

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A new survey, conducted for the the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC), suggests that independent schools are turning from modular A-levels towards traditional ones where all papers are taken after two years.

The BBC website reports that one in six of the schools the HMC represents have pupils that only sit exams after two years.

Following many Independent schools' low ranking in newly published league tables, the schools are now calling on the government to recognise iGCSEs, despite ministers insisting that the iGCSE does not meet the requirements of the national curriculum set down for secondary school pupils.

Many leading independent schools appear at the bottom of the league tables, because they are based on GCSEs and other accredited qualifications, but do not include the iGCSE.

Gillian Low, president of the Girls' Schools Association, said: "You cannot judge a school's examination performance fairly if a highly-regarded qualification is excluded."

A spokesman for the Department for Children, Schools and Families said: "The modular exams are fairer because they better reward the hard work of young people over the two-year course - instead of having an all-or-nothing exam at the end.

"A-levels are rigorously scrutinised by the independent watchdog Ofqual to make sure that standards remain high.

"Students have always been able to re-sit A-levels. There are very low levels of re-sits in the new AS-levels and it is bizarre for heads to argue that there is something wrong with having a second chance to do an exam of exactly the same standard - students' achievement is no less valid."

Formerly, A-levels were taken at the end of two-year courses. This all changed a decade ago with the switch to the current system, where exams are taken in stages with opportunities for re-takes of individual modules to boost overall grades.

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