Pearson report recommends A-Levels should be replaced with a Baccalaureate system
Pearson UK recently funded an enquiry into the extent to which the traditional English A-Level system prepares young people for the needs of the future economy. The report is entitled "Making Education Work" and one of the key recommendations is that the A-Levels should be replaced with a Baccalaureate system which supports a broader curriculum and helps to keep career options open and enable flexibility in later life.
The group was comprised of academics from the UK's leading universities and business leaders and was chaired by Sir Roy Anderson, who pointed out that teaching in England has not significantly changed in the last 60 years. Sir Michael Rake, Chairman of BT says:
"It is very clear that our education system has failed to provide, in an increasingly competitive global world, the skills and competencies that are necessary for business and for the UK economy to succeed.
"Over the last 25 years and longer there have been multiple initiatives from different Secretaries of State which have not achieved the necessary improvement in educational standards.
"It is therefore time to establish a cross-party apolitical approach to education to move on from our narrow out-dated focus with A levels and to improve on the other competencies necessary for success, including the fundamental need to improve the basic skills of literacy and numeracy which are at an unacceptably low level."
Again, we find that the educational vision of the International Baccalaureate is shedding new light on what a good education is about. While ministers and universities have used the national curriculum to suit their own needs, the IB has quietly kept focused on its vision of broadly educated students who have a clear specialisation in a handful of subjects, who can think critically about their own learning and can apply it in a variety of global contexts. It is refreshing to see more and more business leaders and UK academics promoting the value of the education Dane Court offers.
– International Baccalaureate: is it any good?
In the recent Telegraph article about the IB, Jon Cartwright asks the question "is it any good"? The clear answer is 'yes'.
Cartwright points out that the new "Advanced Baccalaureate" backed by Gove is "remarkably similar" to the IB. More than that, the new A-Bacc is simply cannibalizing the Diploma. In addition to the traditional 3 A Levels, this new qualification just tags on an Extended Essay substitute, requires a CAS-like series of projects and includes a poor TOK imitation. What no other "baccalaureate" is offering, however, is theprogrammatic cohesion of the IB.
The various components of the IB are united in their focus on developing a consistent set of learning skills and dispositions codified in the IB's learner Profile. The IB is a coherent vision of what education is about, not a checklist of separate exams.
In addition to providing coherent breadth, Cartwright shows that the evidence suggests learning in the IB gives as much depth as in A-Levels. The research from the Department of Education shows that there is no disadvantage in terms of preparation for degree courses for students studying a broader range, and in some cases this is an advantage.
The article quotes an undergraduate as arguing that the educational system shouldn't be 'forcing [students] to continue with things they may hate'. It is a particularly English approach to education that at 16 students are expected to limit themselves in terms of what they learn. The rest of the world's educational systems expect their 18 year old school-leavers to be literate, numerate, able to engage linguistically with other cultures and also familiar with the scientific underpinnings of the modern world. For subjects students don't take on to A Level, do we really believe that GCSE can be the minimal benchmarks which our young people should be striving to reach?
The IB has offered a consistent vision for 40 years, it has experienced no grade inflation and its curriculum and assessment is driven by educational professionals.
Read the article at telegraph.co.uk
King's College London lowers IB offers
Dane Court is delighted to see KCL's recent move towards a lower overall minimum IB admissions requirement. Over the last 10 years the KCL offer has steadily increased from 32 to 39 points for the 2013 intake. This trend is something seen across the UK universities.
KCL's Principal Professor Sir Rick Trainor explicitly links the broad interdisciplinary learning of the IB with a number of interdisciplinary courses at now at KCL adding that IB students bring a "great sense of energy, determination and diversity" which is well-suited to both the single honours and multidisciplinary degrees.
The new offers stand at 35 overall points with 766 in HL subjects. The shift in the overall point score is a move in the right direction and we applaud KCL for its recognition of the ability of students at this score: these would fall within the top 20% of the world IB cohort.
Coverage of the KCL move to a fairer minimum requirement:
- KCL website: http://www.kcl.ac.uk/newsevents/news/newsrecords/2013/03-March/Kings-reviews-its-position-on-International-Baccalaureate-.aspx
- IB's Press Release : http://www.ibo.org/ibaem/news/documents/KCLIBrelease210313.pdf
The debate about the relative merits of A Level and IB has been in the news quite a bit recently and the Head of Sevenoaks school, Katy Ricks, has offered her take on the issues in an article in The Independent.
"The impact of the IB on a school is liberating and motivating. It fosters a shared purpose and common ethos; it brings students and institutions around the world in touch; it validates the belief that there is no limit to intellectual endeavour. Our students prove this daily – they are getting into the world's top universities, are moving onto employment with relative ease – to the delight of their parents. Employers worldwide know that IB students know a lot, and more, can do things."
So while, as Garner says, "controversy rages about Mr Gove's exam reforms", schools that are confident enough to take on and stick with the IB quietly move forward, preparing our students for a world needing well educated and globally minded citizens.