Nov 9 2012
A-level students will only be able to take exams in the summer, with fewer chances to re-sit papers, it has been announced.
Under changes announced by Ofqual, from next year, January exams will be scrapped.
The regulator said the move would address concerns over how many times students can sit exams, by cutting the number of re-sit opportunities.
The decision comes following a three-month consultation into A-level reform. The regulator said it is still considering further changes, such as more university involvement in the qualifications, and altering the structure of the exams.
Education Secretary Michael Gove announced earlier this year that he intends to give universities, particularly the most elite institutions, "a far greater role" in designing A-levels in the future, amid concerns that the qualifications are failing to prepare teenagers for higher education.
Plans were set out in Ofqual's consultation document, published in June, for exam boards to show that each A-level qualification it offers has the support of at least 20 UK universities, including 12 which are respected in the field or considered to be leading research institutions.
But the plans have been met with opposition from both universities and school leaders.
Universities UK (UUK) has said it does not believe it would be "advisable or feasible" for the sector to "take ownership" of the qualifications, while the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) said the level of involvement proposed is "very high and very time consuming", adding it is "unclear" what is meant by the support of 20 universities.
Ofqual chief regulator Glenys Stacey insisted that the consultation had shown "broad support" for more involvement from higher education.
She added: "The consultation followed on from Ofqual's research into perceptions of A-levels. This showed that the qualifications are considered to be largely fit for purpose but that there were some structural changes that could be made to improve them. There were also concerns expressed by teachers, employers and universities over what they term a resit culture. Teachers in particular said that A-level students approach examinations with the expectation that they will always get a second chance."