Substitute Academic Skills (AAQs) are a suite of qualifications meant to offer a complementary alternate to common A-stages and T-stages. From 2025, they will come to be the only qualifications to exist along with these submit-16 review possibilities. AAQs will give pupils the essential techniques and expertise they need to have to put together for entry into bigger schooling and university.
College students will be able to opt for an academic pathway – completing A-degrees, or a mixture of at A-levels, and 1 AAQ – or a technological pathway (T-stages). In the first cycle of the reforms, the place science skills sit, only small AAQs (equivalent to a single A-amount) are currently being accredited for funding.
T-levels, on the other hand, provide a much more technical route for learners, with the goal of progression into work. Pupils review just one T-amount – in well being or science, for instance – which is equal to 3 A-concentrations. Work placement, arranged and managed by the discovering centre, will constitute 20% of a student’s time.
Amount 3 qualifications like BTECs and Cambridge Technicals in science subjects that are much larger than an A-level won’t be funded from July 2025. The very first new AAQs will commence in September 2025.
Planning the ground
In this article at OCR, we submitted our cycle 1 AAQs to Ofqual at the close of July for evaluation, and we anticipate to listen to if we fulfilled the complete standards for funding acceptance in spring 2024. While we wait, we will be preparing mapping paperwork, shipping and delivery guides, textbooks and other methods, all set for September 2025.
We’re making support supplies based on what teachers have told us they find useful in providing the system, and what supports their learners. These include things like exemplars for marking assignments, mathematics sources and sensible handbooks, with a unique concentrate on supporting non-specialist science lecturers.
During the consultation and redevelopment course of action, we’ve talked to lots of teachers who have expressed their considerations about what these adjustments will suggest for their learners. Learners who would in any other case have taken the greater diploma qualifications in its place of A-stages will deal with the biggest change. Also, some centres have stated they just cannot give science T-concentrations, but nevertheless have to have available possibilities for students who obtain 100% terminal examination skills difficult.
To tackle this, OCR has been working on strengthening the accessibility of our A-levels in psychology and sociology, to make them offered for a wider assortment of college students. Schools instructed us that A-concentrations in these subjects would be most appropriate simply because college students really don’t need to have a applicable GCSE to move on to these courses, and they are well known choices.
Regardless of the worries outlined previously mentioned, we know academics will take pleasure in the new breadth of content material afforded by the AAQs, and the wide wide range of relevant skills learners can build by studying them. Lecturers have instructed us they feel the AAQs ‘will established [students] up effectively for even further studies’ and that they assume they will, ‘help students have an understanding of how to commence looking into science and to expertise what it indicates to be a scientist’. One teacher commented that, ‘If I was teaching this … I would be quite happy’.
A important advantage of the AAQs is that they present some of the realistic techniques and contextual information not at the moment made available at A-level, whilst nevertheless enabling students to go after an educational pathway. The new Cambridge Sophisticated Nationals in Applied science and human biology, for case in point, have been made to enable college students progress to science-centered better education.
Students will do the job with their lecturers to comprehensive 60% of the qualification by means of assignments established by OCR, and will have two prospects for every yr to sit the remaining 40% exterior assessment published papers. They will select two optional models giving perception into the professions they could possibly development to and how experts use the science information and conversation skills protected in the program material to have out their roles.
All round, I imagine the way the AAQs have been developed, with a combination of versatility, crucial scientific wondering and main realistic expertise in intellect, presents the ideal complement to the existing suite of post-16 skills on present. College students and academics will the two benefit from the enriching and varied class content on this new pathway to higher education.
Amy Brewer is a science issue advisor at OCR