A-level reform: broadening subjects post-16 ‘essential’, says head

Following a new report from EDSK stating that A-levels are too narrow, the head of school at ACS International School Egham says a ‘more holistic, broader approach’ is needed to prepare students for the future

The head of an independent day school has said that broadening the subjects studied post-16 is “essential” to prepare students for “real-life careers that they will stick at and enjoy”.

This comes after education thinktank EDSK released a new report stating that A-levels are too narrow and should be replaced with a three-year “baccalaureate” that covers all academic, applied and technical courses.

Rather than choosing three A-level subjects at the age of 16, the baccalaureate would enable students to retain more breadth in their studies and gradually specialise over time. EDSK also recommended all students study English and maths up to the age of 18, in line with other developed nations.

Jeremy Lewis, head of school at ACS International School Egham, commented that, “young people are more than capable of taking on a wider range of learning at post-16 level”.

ACS International Schools, which has campuses in London, Surrey and Doha, have been offering International Baccalaureate (IB) programmes for over 40 years.

“Studying more subjects at post-16 level may sound challenging, but I believe that broadening the perspectives of our young people is essential for equipping them for real-life careers that they will stick at and enjoy, because they will have had greater opportunity to discover their strengths and interests,” said Lewis.

I hope that, as the UK moves out of the Covid-19 disruption and looks ahead to a brighter future, education reform takes note of the pedagogy already embedded by the IB – Jeremy Lewis, ACS International School Egham

In the IB’s Diploma Programme (DP) for students aged 16–18, students study six subjects across set subject groups, covering everything from maths and sciences, to humanities, to languages and the arts.

Lewis explained: “Although academic rigour is central to the DP, unlike the National Curriculum, IB programmes also place emphasis beyond academic results and league tables; allowing students to develop as well-rounded, resilient, independent learners who can confidently take on the unknown challenges of tomorrow.”

In addition to the DP, three of the four ACS campuses offer the IB’s Career-related Programme, which combines career-related study and real-world experience.

Lewis suggested the IB is looked at when it comes to education reform.

He said: “I hope that, as the UK moves out of the Covid-19 disruption and looks ahead to a brighter future, education reform takes note of the pedagogy already embedded by the IB, and that a more holistic, broader approach is taken to help students get ready for the future.”


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