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Title: A-levels forever : an exploration of the reasons for A-levels resistance to change
Author: Krstic Anderson, Sladana
ISNI:       0000 0004 2717 3438
Awarding Body: Institute of Education, University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2012
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In this study I conducted qualitative exploratory research into A-levels. In particular I examined why A-levels appear to be resistant to replacement or even abolition proposals such as, for example, the recommendations from the Tomlinson Report (2004). The aim of the research was to consider the advantages and disadvantages of A-levels, and, in so doing, to identify the particular characteristics of A-levels that may be responsible for their 50 years-plus endurance. In addition, I review the possible alternatives and what might be the future for A-levels. The study was designed with a focus on the views and experiences of influential stakeholders who work in the field of A-levels: schools, university admission administrators, academic researchers and government advisors. Data were gathered through a variety of methods: document analysis, focus group and interviews. The main finding that emerged from the data indicated that A-levels have a paradoxical nature. One of their biggest perceived advantages (depth of the curriculum and early specialisation) is also one of their biggest disadvantages, when viewed from an alternative standpoint. There were three key themes that could explain A-levels' resistance to change over the years. First is the issue of standards, with the A-level as the symbolic 'gold standard', and the government's reluctance to risk upsetting the comparability of standards. Second is the lack of parity of esteem between academic and vocational qualifications, which underpins A-levels' popularity with the public through their perceived elitism. Third, A-levels' role as a selective tool for university is difficult to reconcile when they are also the dominant qualification for secondary schooling. The study concluded with my discussion of how these three main reasons fit in the policy making model as proposed by Ball (1990).
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available