North Bristol Post 16 Centre

North Bristol Post 16 Centre

North Bristol Post 16 Centre

Cotham and Redland Green Learning Communities

2015 Student Entry: Curriculum Reform

1. What is A Level reform?

You may have seen in the news that A Levels will be changing soon. This reform is driven by the Government and aims to better equip students for university and employment. The changes are part of a national initiative to ensure the value of A Levels into the future and are being made ready for teaching from September 2015

2. What is changing?

  • AS qualifications will become stand-alone and not count towards A2. Currently AS qualifications are free standing and contribute to students’ final A Level grades.
  • AS and A Level qualifications will be linear qualifications officially assessed at the end of the course only. Students will not have to take exam board assessments halfway through an A Level course, like they do at the moment. They will do all the exams together at the end of a two-year course for A Levels.  
  • Many A Levels are already assessed solely by exams but others that are currently a mix of exams and coursework may be changed. There will be no more than 20% coursework and only in areas where there is recognition that certain skills cannot be assessed in an exam, e.g. creative writing in English. Otherwise, assessment will be by exam only. In sciences, practical assessment will be reported separately as a pass or fail, rather than as part of the A Level grade.

3. What is staying the same?

  • A Levels will continue to be a two year course, as they always have been.
  • The grading system (A* to E) will stay the same.
  • The value of A Levels are unchanged. The qualifications will still allow universities to accurately identify the level of achievement of students, provide a benchmark of academic ability for employers and they remain an internationally comparable Post-16 academic course of study.

 4. When will A Levels be reformed?

A levels are being reformed in two initial phases: phase one for first teaching in 2015 (first assessment 2017) and phase two for first teaching 2016 (first assessment 2018); other subjects will remain unchanged until 2017.  

September 2015: English Literature; English Language; English Language and Literature; Biology; Chemistry; Physics; Art and Design; Business Studies; Economics; History; Sociology; Psychology and Computing.

September 2016: Mathematics & Further Maths; Languages; Geography; Philosophy & RS; Design Technology; Theatre Studies; Music; PE and Dance.

September 2017: Government and Politics; Ancient History; Classical Civilisation; Music Technology; Media; Films Studies and IT.

5. What is happening about AS qualifications?

Ofqual have confirmed that the reformed A levels will not include AS level qualifications. New AS levels will be standalone qualifications, designed to offer breadth of curriculum. The marks from them will not contribute to an A level grade and AS levels will broadly remain at their current standard.

6. What will the mean for our new North Bristol Post 16 students who are applying for 2015 entry?

In September 2015, the North Bristol Post 16 Centre plans to continue to offer students the opportunity to do 4 subjects in the first year with a view to continuing with 3 in the second year.  Parents and prospective students may have heard that some colleges and schools are restricting first years to only 3 choices.  This is not our intention. 

To manage this change, for 2015 only, all students will sit an AS at the end of year 12.  Students will need to gain a pass in their AS examinations in order to progress onto A2. 

By September 2015, because of government reforms, there will be two types of A level. These are: the current modular A levels and the new linear A levels. Linear A levels will be in the following subjects:


Linear A levels


Assessed by final examination (and coursework where specified) at the end of the two year A level course

AS levels will be available in these subjects and can be taken after one year of study. However, marks from the AS level will not contribute to the full A level grade.







English Language

English Literature

English Language and Literature





All other subjects offered by the North Bristol Post 16 Centre are modular A levels. These are assessed through AS examinations/coursework at the end of the first year of study, and A2 examinations/ coursework at the end of the second year of study.

7. Can I study both linear and modular A levels at the same time

It will still be fine to combine modular A levels and linear A levels in your programme of study.

8. What if we have a change of government in the 2015 election?

If the Labour government win the next general election, they have promised to recouple AS levels. 

Click here for more information on A Level Reform.