Government and Politics A-level Reform

August 2016 - Exam boards to submit new content specification to QfQual

By 11 August AQA and Pearson/Edexcel will submit their proposed content specification and sample assessment materials for the reformed AS/A Level for accreditation by the exams watchdog OfQual. Soon after this the exam boards will make their proposed materials public. A decision will be made on these proposals by 16 September and the exam boards will receive a written report about these plans. Representatives from the exam boards and OfQual for further feedback to be given. It is normal for accreditation not to awarded in the first instance and it is therefore highly likely that the exam boards will have to submit amended content before any material can go forward to form the basis of the reformed qualification. 


July 2016 - DfE responds to Brexit implications on the subject content for the reformed A Level in Politics

Following on from the UK's decision to leave the European Union, concern has been expressed about the effect that Brexit will have on the new subject content delineated in March 2016 for the reformed AS/A Level in Politics, which will begin from September 2017. 

Civil servants at the Department for Education in charge of qualifications reform have stated that the section on the European Union in the new subject content still stands irrespective of the UK's membership of the EU. This includes the need to:

Develop knowledge and understanding of:

• the aims of the EU and the extent to which they have been achieved; the role of the EU in policy making and the impact of it on UK political systems and policy making

However it remains to be seen, how the exam awarding boards interpret this requirement in light of Brexit. Currently the two exam boards, which will offer A Level Politics from 2017 are in the process of submitting draft specifications and sample assessment materials to OfQual for approval. The PSA has been involved in an advisory role with both of these organisations, Pearson/Edexcel and AQA. 


June 2016 - Exam awarding bodies developing new content specifications and sample assessment materials

AQA and Pearson, the two exam awarding bodies who will offer the new AS & A Level in Politics, are currently in the process of drafting new content specification, marking schemes and sample assesment materials in light of the revised subject content from the Department of Education. The PSA is providing expert advice to these bodies on these matters. New materials will be submitted to OfQual in August 2016 with the exams regulator expected to provide feedback in September.   


May 2016 - Ofqual finalises Conditions and Guidance for new AS & A Level in Politics exam awarding bodies 

In May Ofqual published its ‘Conditions and Guidance’ for exam awarding bodies for the AS & A Level Politics from 2017. Such subject specific guidance is usual following on from a review of content, such as the one recently undertaken on AS and A Level Politics by the Department for Education.

A consultation took place in March 2016. The original consultation document can be viewed here. The PSA's response to this consultation is here

OfQual's decision on the conditions and guidance for the AS & A Level Politics is accessible through this link and their analysis of responses is here


March 2016 - DfE publishes revised Politics AS & A Level subject content and response to consultation 

Following on from the publication of the draft content specification for the new AS & A Level in Politics in November 2015 and the subsequent consultation process, the Department for Education made revisions to the new content specification.

Please see here for the new content specification for AS & A Level Politics. This will be taught from September 2017 onwards, with the first examinations in Summer 2018 (AS Level) and Summer 2019 (A Level). Female thinkers, such Mary Wollestonecraft and Rosa Luxemburg have been added into the curriculum and there is now a choice of courses for A Level students who can study either US Government and Politics or Global Politics. 

The PSA's response to the consultation can be accessed here. 

The Department's response to the consultation can be viewed here. The specific response to reforming the Politics A Level starts on page 14.    


3 November 2015 - DfE and Ofqual now consulting on draft Politics AS & A level subject content

The Department for Education and Ofqual published public consultations on revised subject content for new GCSEs and A levels which will be taught from 2017, including AS and A Level Politics.

Details of the DfE's consultation on subject content and how to respond to consultation are here.

Ofqual are consulting in parallel on proposals for assessment arrangements in these subjects. These documents can be viewed here.

Please do take the opportunity to share your views and encourage others to do so.

The deadline for submissions is 15th December.

Additionally, to help us gain an informed overview of members' views we would be very grateful if you could also share your submissions with us.

Please send these directly to james.ludley@psa.ac.uk

This consulation is now over. You can read the full report here. 


Subject Criteria - October 2015

The PSA continues to be busy behind the scenes ensuring constant dialogue surrounding the new Government and Politics A-level. This morning we received news that the new subject content (which will govern all awarding organisations' politics qualifications) will be released for public consultation by the Department for Education at the end of October. We'll continue to keep members updated on this as things progress.


Subject Criteria - September 2015

On 10th September Ofqual released the following news release on further consultation on reformed qualifications for 2017 - here.

Government and Politics A-level was not listed as a subject to be progressed as part of the reforms during the September consultation. The Association has been liaising closely with the exam boards about this. In short, this is obviously concerning but the exam boards remain confident that subject criteria for the new Politics A-level will be ‘signed off’ by the Department for Education (DfE) very soon.  They have told us that they “are continuing work to develop the content for the remaining subjects not included in the consultation, and where content for a subject is developed to meet Ofqual principles and DfE guidance, it will be included in a consultation to be published later this year.  Subjects in the later 2015 consultation will still be taught from 2017.”  We will certainly be continuing to treat this as a critical issue.


Good news for Government and Politics A-level

This afternoon (March 26) there have been very positive developments from Ofqual who have now published the outcomes of their "Completing GCSE, AS and A Level Reform" consultation results for subjects in the 'third wave' of reform.

Government and Politics A-level is included in Ofqual's list of proposed subjects for reform in 2017 in which they consider content requirements could be developed to meet their reform principles. (Part II, Page 5)

The issue of reforming the Government and Politics A-level remains high on the PSA's schools' agenda. The subject is a valued and important element of sixth form study and the Association will continue to play an important role to help facilitate dialogue with the main awarding bodies around new course content.


Below is a summary of just some of the initiatives which the Association have taken to in this area so far:

Lobbying Government and OFQUAL

The PSA has raised the concerns expressed by our teacher members to the Government and OFQUAL. In July 2014, the PSA's CEO, Helena Djurkovic, wrote to Education Secretary Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP, Universities Minister Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, and OFQUAL’s Chief Regulator Glenys Stacey, outlining concerns regarding the ongoing A-level reforms, including the issue of decoupling of the AS and A-level specificationsYou can read more about our correspondence online here.

Prior to Ofqual's above annoucment, the PSA wrote to the Minister of State for School Reform, Nick Gibb MP, to outline our support for the awarding bodies' subject rationales and to seek an important role with the development of new Government and Politics A-level subject criteria.  A copy of this letter can be viewed online here.


Working with Awarding Bodies

On the afternoon of Friday 30th January, 2015, the PSA convened a meeting of Government and Politics A-level teachers and representatives from all the main awarding bodies to discuss A-level reform.  A news release of this meeting can be viewed online here

A video clip of the presentations made by the awarding bodies can be viewed online via the PSA’s YouTube channel. The presentation slides can be downloaded here.


Heads of Department Conference

In December 2014, the PSA’s Heads of Department Conference included a session to discuss the ongoing A-level reforms to 50 Heads of Department from around the UK.

The PSA invited the Department for Education’s Chief Analyst, Professor Tim Leunig, and Head of Politics at Manchester Grammar School, Richard Kelly, to outline the current situation given the critical importance of this issue.

The PSA’s Programme Development Officer, James Ludley, also updated HoDs on the role the PSA has been playing to help facilitate dialogue with the main awarding bodies around new course content and also to champion the subject to Government and Ofqual.  Additionally, the issue of Politics and IR depatments supporting the campaign and doing more to support the A-level was discussed.  You can watch the video of the discussion online here.


Keeping in touch with further developments

  
  

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