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General studies A-level gets the axe

19/10/2015 Joanna
The government has introduced new stricter criteria to ensure that British A-levels meet the high standards in the rest of the world. As a result of this, the general studies A-level has been abolished.

"It has not been possible to draft content for AS- and A-level general studies and critical thinking to meet the requirements of reformed AS-levels and A-levels," a Department for Education (DfE) spokesperson told TES. "As a result, they will not be available for teaching in 2017."

This move will come as a disappointment to some students who have relied upon the subject to boost their point score and help them achieve a placement in a top university. Introduced in the 1950s, general studies has proved controversial in recent years with many people claiming that it is less valuable than others as it requires little or no teaching. 

The intention of the course was to give pupils a grounding in a range of disciplines such as the arts, humanities and social and physical sciences to supplement their three specialist A-level subjects. By 2001 general studies was the most popular A-level subject, accounting for 11.7 per cent of all exam entries.

Following a government push for students to take more difficult subjects such as maths and science, numbers have decreased. Entries dropped by more than half to 40,984 in 2011, and by a further 56 per cent to just 18,092 this summer.

The New Schools Network think tank found that the top 500 state schools accounted for almost 90 per cent of all entries for general studies and critical thinking at A-level. This led to a warning for students that the Russell Group, a collective of top institutions including Durham, Oxford, Cambridge and Exeter, had advised against taking the subject.

Posted by Tim ColmanADNFCR-2164-ID-801803441-ADNFCR
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