Wednesday, 17 August 2016

A LEVEL REFORMS & THE IMPACT ON RESITS

The UK Department for Education is pushing through big changes to AS and A-level exams, aimed at making them more ‘fit for purpose’. The new A Level reforms place an increased emphasis on the performance in an exam as there will be little coursework and few opportunities for resits.

For most subjects this already means that students will only be examined at the end of their two year course and AS Levels will no longer count towards the final A Level grade but rather stand-alone from the final A Level, having been ‘decoupled.’

The curriculum of most A-level subjects has not and will not be significantly changed, the exception being maths, which is receiving a major shake-up. 

The other notable change is a reduced emphasis on coursework. Now simply referred to as ‘non-exam assessment’ the reforms will see a drop in this form of assessment as the new principle is that if it’s possible for something to be assessed through formal examination then it will be. The practical work, in Science, will be a practical endorsement, which must be passed but will not contribute to the final A-Level grades awarded.

Existing (‘legacy’) A levels are modular and they comprise AS modules (50% of total A Level marks + UCAS tariff value) taken in Year 12 (lower sixth) and A2 modules (50% of total A Level marks + UCAS tariff value) taken in Year 13 (upper sixth).

The new AS is not an advanced subsidiary but instead more of an advanced supplementary qualification. If you just study for an AS you should finish it at the end of Year 12 (lower sixth). Marks gained in the reformed AS level cannot count towards a full A Level. They are worth 40% of an A Level (+UCAS tariff value). This means that when you apply to university under the new UCAS tariff an A-level A grade will be worth 48 points and the A grade in AS will be worth only 20.

Schools have been left in a rather difficult situation in trying to decide what to offer their sixth form students. There are three options;
1.    One Year AS -> course taught in Year 12 (lower sixth) and examined at the end of that year. Worth 40% of a full A Level and can be taken no further.
2.    Two Year AS -> course taught over a two year period and examined at the end of Year 13 (upper sixth). Still only worth 40% of an A Level and no A* grade available. This can be taken alongside option 3 (below)
3.    Full A Level -> reformed ‘linear’ course taken over the two year period. All exams taken at the end of Year 13~, no marks can be picked up throughout. ~Schools can consider internal testing to gauge the level of a student at the end of Year 12 (lower sixth).

New A levels will be graded with the same A* to E pass marks as currently used and teaching of the new syllabuses is being phased in over three years having started in 2015.

Most AS and A-level courses are being designed to be “co-teachable” so that both groups of students will learn the same things in year one. The key difference is that those students who have opted for the A-level course will not be assessed at the end of year one, but those taking an AS exam will be.

Timeline of Reforms

Phase One: Subjects – English Language, English Literature, English Language and Literature, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Psychology, Computer Science, Business, History, Art and Design, Economics, Sociology.
Sept 2015: Start teaching new A levels and new AS in phase one subjects
June 2016: New AS exams in phase one subjects. Penultimate existing/original A level exams.
June 2017: First A level exams in phase one subjects. Last exams for existing/original A level subjects.

Phase Two: Subjects - Geography, Ancient Languages, Modern Foreign Languages, Dance, Music, PE, Drama and Theatre, Religious Studies.
Sept 2016: Start teaching new A levels and new AS in phase two subjects.
June 2017: AS level exams in phase two subjects.
June 2018: First new A-level exams in phase two subjects.

Phase Three: Subjects - Maths, Further Maths, any other AS or A Level subjects taught from this point.
Sept 2017: Start teaching new A levels and new AS in phase three subjects.
June 2018: AS level exams in phase three subjects.
June 2019: First new A-level exams in phase three subjects.

The new UCAS Tariff will also be used for university courses starting from September 2017.

Resits & Retakes (A resit requires that you sit one item of assessment on a further occasion. / A retake requires completion of all elements of assessment on a further occasion.)

The new ‘linear’ A Level system undoubtedly makes it more difficult for schools and colleges to accommodate AS Level and A Level retakes.

The new system means it is no longer possible to RESIT individual units/modules of a course, instead you have to RETAKE the entire theory exam (it will be possible to carry forward internally assessed marks). Therefore, it will still be possible to complete an A-level course in one year, so long as all the assessments are completed at the end.

With no reintroduction of January resits, at AS and A level, students will have the chance to retake in May or June the following year.

Retakes should only be available to students who have taken the qualification previously, or had a good reason not to have taken it when planned (such as illness).

An important announcement from Ofqual in March 2016 ensured that students taking existing (legacy) AS and A levels will have the opportunity to resit them if they want to improve on their results. The decision from Ofqual, following a public consultation, means that those taking existing (‘legacy’) exams during the period of reform will not be forced to study for reformed qualifications should their original results not go to plan.

EPQ
Another increasingly popular option for a number of schools to offer is the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ). Already in place in a number of schools this can be a 5000 word research based essay, a performance or a creative artefact etc and involves several months of work during the sixth form. An EPQ will still be marked at full A Level standard (A* available), unlike the reformed AS course. It also equates to 50% of a full A Level.

University Opinion
How universities respond to the changes is going to be vital and already we are seeing that their attitude is not uniform. The University of Cambridge is in favour of schools continuing to offer AS Levels as they believe that they are useful indicators of future A Level performance (http://bit.ly/2a3N0DQ). The University of Edinburgh has said that it will still require a fourth AS or a fourth A-level for medicine courses and The University of Newcastle has said that it could use an AS-level qualification as a deciding factor on results day if lots of other students miss their grades. Other universities put more store by GCSE results as a good indicator of future academic ability. UCAS has a list of qualification reform statements from universities.

If A Level grades drop nationally then it is possible that universities will reduce their entry requirements on the basis that course content is tougher. After all, they have long complained that more rigour is required in the sciences and that resits, and teaching for exams is not sufficient preparation for degree courses.  We shall see.

Education Advisers…how can we help?
If a student does not achieve the exam results they’d hoped for, don’t panic!
We can talk through all the options, and then, based on what is most important to, recommend the most appropriate colleges, private tutors or exam centres. We deal with all the private sixth-form colleges and major tutoring firms in the UK and can give you candid and objective advice to help make the right decision.                                                                                                            
Most private sixth-form colleges have a wide range of subjects to choose from so whatever the requirements please just get in touch with us for further information.

Education Advisers also has a team of experienced university consultants including ex-university admissions staff who are able to offer an outstanding service for all university and college candidates applying to the UK and the USA. So if you need assistance once results have been published please visit our University Advice site for more information. 

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

PROVISIONAL IB LEAGUE TABLE 2016

In this post we give you our own provisional assessment of the Top IB Schools in the UK for 2016. These positions are compiled from the average points achieved by sixth formers taking the Diploma Programme of the IB.

A candidate can receive between 1 and 7 points for each of the 6 subjects taken. He or she can also get up to 3 points for The Theory of Knowledge and The Extended Essay – thereby meaning a maximum score of 45 points.

Position
School
Average Point Score
1
North London Collegiate
41.7
2
King’s College School
41.2
3
Whitgift
41
4
Stephen Perse Foundation
40
5
Cheltenham Ladies College
39.6
=
Sevenoaks
39.6
7
Headington
39
=
The Abbey School
39
9
Charterhouse
38.8
=
King Edward's School, Birmingham
38.8
10
Portsmouth Grammar School
38.7
11
Manchester High School for Girls
38
=
Bromsgrove
38
13
Haileybury
37.7
14
Brentwood
37
15
Oakham
36.9
16
Christ’s Hospital
36.6
17
Bedford Girls
36.4
18
Red Maids
36.3
19
Bedford Boys
36
=
Bryanston
36
=
Marymount
36
22
St Clare’s, Oxford
35.87
23
24
Stonyhurst
ACS Egham
35.7
35.5
25
Gresham’s
35
=
Leighton Park
35
27
Bradfield College
34
=
=
Warminster 
Windermere School
34
34
30
International Community School (ICS)
33.9
31
Felsted
33.8
32
King Edward’s, Witley
33.5
=
International School of London (ISL)
33.5
34
ACS Cobham
33
=
Rydal Penrhos
33
=
37
Taunton
ACS Hillingdon
33
32.6
38
39
King William's College
Cobham Hall
32.2
31.3

Note 1: There are a few gaps in our data, because the information is not freely available, a school will not supply it or it has not offered the IB for long enough to have DP results. If you represent a school and wish to let us know your score, please get in touch by emailing info@educationadvisers.co.uk 

Note 2: We make a substantial investment of time and effort in preparing these tables, and all copyright and database rights in the tables belong to us. Please respect this by not reproducing the tables or the information within them, in whole or in part, without our consent. If you wish to reproduce any of our tables or the information within them then please contact us for details.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

WHEN ARE GCSE, A-LEVEL, IB AND SQA RESULTS DAYS?

International Baccalaureate (IB) Results Day
Date: Wednesday 6th July 2016

Results will be available on the IB candidates site; you will need a personal code and PIN in order to log in. The course director at your school or college will be able to provide you with these. In the UK, results generally come available between midday and 2pm. Check your candidate page for a specific time.
Scottish Qualifications (SQA) Results Day
Date: Tuesday 9th August 2016
Results will be posted to individuals to arrive on the morning of August 9. You can choose to have your results emailed or texted to you instead by signing up to MySQA by 5pm on Monday 18th July.


A-Level Results Day
Date: Thursday 18th August 2016
Students will be able to collect results from their school or college in the morning. If you are not able to attend in person, you can arrange with the school to have your results emailed to you.

(I)GCSE Results Day
Date: Thursday 25th August 2016
Students will be able to collect their results from their school or college in the morning. If you are not able to attend in person, you can arrange with the school to have your results emailed to you. 

Friday, 20 May 2016

BURSARIES...AN INTRODUCTION

With school fees galloping ahead of UK inflation, most parents are very interested in ways of reducing their fees drastically, as confirmed by the current Daily Telegraph article.

With ISC statistics stating that 41,000 children (8% of total children in ISC private schools) are receiving financial assistance to reduce fees, one could be forgiven for thinking that getting a bursary was a simple matter of turning up and asking for one, however the reality is quite different.

For several years there was a trend for more money to be allocated to bursaries (based on financial means) by moving funds away from scholarships (based on merit). However, we believe that trend has reversed with schools more likely to give a bursary if the child has first won a scholarship. Additionally it is an extremely complicated process to secure a bursary, usually involving an investigation of all income and assets of not just the parents, but also other family members (grandparents for example) to a level more detailed that annual income tax returns!

The relationships between school bursars and parents has become a little "adversarial" because there are far more requests than available funds. Thus many of the larger senior schools have subcontracted out the bursary process to independent accountants to take the sting out of possible arguments with parents if their request gets denied. It can be reasonably assumed that accountants will pay more attention to the numbers rather than the emotion behind a bursary request. For this reason we have put a detailed description of the process on our website

Education Advisers does not give bespoke advice on bursaries, although we can give advice on scholarships. Furthermore, we have just introduced a 2016 eGuide entitled "TOP 10 TIPS FOR REDUCING YOUR SCHOOL FEES", which is available free of charge to bespoke school choice advice clients.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

MAKING A UCAS PERSONAL STATEMENT PERSONAL

For students applying to university through UCAS, arguably the most important part of their application is the Personal Statement. The opening sentences can make or break an application and have an Admissions Tutor either keen to read further or to deposit the application form on the reject pile. To keep him reading is to grab his attention straightaway and not use hackneyed or trite phrases such as “…I have always been passionate about…”, or ….what really fascinates me about this course is…”

You are about to make one of the biggest decisions of your life: so it is important that you give solid reasons why you want to study a subject and that your A Levels are entirely suitable for your choice of degree. You should state that your academic track record and extra-curricular activities relate to the subject you are opting to study at undergraduate level, as this all helps a university to understand why you are a suitable candidate for the course. Admissions Tutors are very keen to know that you have the experience, skills and personality that would enable you to succeed on a three or four year course.

One golden rule to be followed is never, ever, stretch the truth about your voluntary work as it will inevitably come back on you. Think really carefully about how you are going to structure your Personal Statement so that it reads well, is truthful and is about you. This might take several drafts, but it is time well spent. Never forget that your application may be the only thing that an Admissions Tutor will base his decision on. Don’t try to be clever, but rather write a Personal Statement that is to the point, clear and that demonstrates what you can offer a university.

Never be tempted to plagiarise other student’s personal statements or purchase a ready-made one online, and if you require advice and help with any aspect of your University or Higher Education applications do contact Education Advisers Limited, who have an experienced and professional team of consultants. 

Monday, 18 April 2016

INDEPENDENT SIXTH FORM COLLEGES - WHAT IS THE BENEFIT?

There is no denying that the sixth form years from age 16-18 are particularly important. For most it is the pivotal final step before university so it is essential that students find the environment that will enable them to succeed.
For many young people, whether coming from the state or private sectors, or indeed from schools overseas, a private Sixth Form College can be a perfect solution.

What are independent sixth form colleges like?
Independent Sixth Form Colleges have a number of common characteristics. It is true that they are less formal than a traditional school but academically they are just as rigorous and there is special attention paid to study skills, which covers such topics as examination technique, essay-writing and note-taking - everything in fact that is needed to ensure that students are fully prepared for the demands of the examination system.

There is a wide range of subjects available and as timetable constraints are not as rigid as in a school catering for a much greater age range, subjects can usually be combined to suit the individual student's needs and requests.

Do the colleges provide accommodation?
Socially these colleges have a mixture of day and residential students and they can vary in size from about 50 to 400 students. Class sizes are small, enabling students to receive plenty of personal attention and most colleges have good library facilities and also well-equipped science laboratories.


Is a sixth form college the right environment for my child?
It is always important to consider the type of environment that a student is likely to thrive in. Some will relish the demands of a highly academic school, but others are likely to do better with more support and less pressure. A lot of colleges are not selective in their intake, and this is one of their greatest strengths. These college will more than often improve the grades of students by two levels. As well as  the focus on study skills almost all colleges will have dedicated counsellors and higher education mentors, who are invaluable when it comes to gaining entry to universities across the globe.

How can I choose the right independent sixth form college?
As independent and impartial education consultants with years of experience, we are here to help students and families make the best decision when it comes to choosing from the variety of independent sixth form colleges. We work on an impartial basis with all the private colleges in the UK and base our recommendations solely on the requirements of our clients and the ability and subject preferences of the student.