Fate of AS history

The education secretary, said he wanted to see A-levels become more academically rigorous and to scrap AS levels. Universities apparently fear that the current “bite-sized” system in which courses are broken up into units with their own exams fails to prepare students for the demands of a degree.

Gove will invite universities to design new A-levels, modelled on the Cambridge Pre-U, which is taken instead of A-levels by pupils at some state and independent schools.

He said: “We will see fewer modules and more exams at the end of two years of sixth form and, as a result, a revival of the art of deep thought.” ( whatever that is!)

A spokesman for the department for education said the reforms would be introduced over the next three to five years.

The coalition government underlined its desire for more traditional teaching last week when Nick Gibb, the schools minister, expressed concern that schoolchildren lacked basic facts, such as who Miss Havisham is or who was in command at the battle of Waterloo.

Gibb told a conference: “The great figures of literature that still populate the conversations of all those who regard themselves as well-educated should be known to all.

“Yet to more and more people, Miss Havisham is a stranger – and even the most basic history and geography a mystery.”

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