This booklet explains and evaluates the reforms to AS-/A-level English affecting courses beginning in 2015 in English Language, English Literature and English Language and Literature. These three subjects have distinctive identities, shaped by both historical and current academic debates about what ‘English’ means; and each has its own orientation, which may or may not provide continuity with pre-16 English and with undergraduate study. The major structural reforms to the new AS-/A levels offer particular challenges. Although one of the main original aims of the reforms was to free up teaching time in order to deepen and enrich learning, the continuation of AS-level as a ‘de-coupled’ qualification has faced teachers with new constraints and presented learners with difficult choices. In light of the uncertainties created by politically driven changes, it is important to articulate some fundamental principles that underlie positive practice across the English subjects.
This the booklet does.
It offers examples of active, creative approaches to study in the three A-level subjects: approaches which should also be included in any 16-to-19 courses aiming to prepare students for contemporary life and work. The booklet proposes ways in which assessment needs to change in order to be relevant to modern literacies. Thousands of young people aged 16 to 19 take courses leading to English qualifications other than A-level. The booklet summarises the current situation with regard to ‘other than A-level’ English qualifications for this age group. In particular, it recommends the introduction of a GCSE-equivalent qualification for post-16 students.