The National Picture: Information on the structure of A Level courses

The structure of A Levels began to change in September 2015. By September 2017 all A Levels followed the new structure. This reform has been 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.

What are the main changes?

  • A Level qualifications are 2-year linear courses – this means students need to study for the full two years to  get the qualification, sitting all exams at the end of the 2 years.
  • AS Level is now a stand-alone qualification which does not contribute to an A Level grade. At Kings Norton Sixth Form we will not be offering AS Levels.
  • Examination is the main method of assessment.

Why are these changes taking place?

The Secretary of State for Education initiated the reform of GCSEs and A Levels in February 2013, asking Ofqual to implement changes that would lead to new qualifications. By reforming A Levels, the Department for Education (DfE) intends to:

  • Make the qualifications more ambitious
  • Better prepare young people for employment and further study
  • Give everyone greater confidence in the integrity and reliability of the qualifications system.
  • Ensure that the purpose of taking A Levels is primarily for entry to university


Kings Norton Sixth Form Curriculum Offer

A flexible personalised package will be discussed to support all students’ needs on enrolment and students will be placed on one of three pathways.


It is expected that most students will study 3 A Levels and an enrichment subject, continuing with all 3 A Level subjects to the end of Year 13.

Pathway 2:

Students who achieve exceptionally well at GCSE may take 4 A Levels and chose an enrichment option continuing with all 4 subjects to the end of Year 13.

Pathway 3:

A few students will study 2 A Levels and at least one enrichment option. Students will be expected to continue with both A Levels to the end of Year 13.

Irrespective of the pathway followed the following principles will apply to all A level courses:

Academic Criteria

5 GCSE grades 5 or above (or grades A*-C). Grade 4 GCSE in English and maths.

For each proposed course of study, the minimum requirement for that subject must be met. This is usually a grade 6 in the subject at GCSE or associated subject and can be found in the subject specific details on the website.

Monitoring of Students’ Progress:


  • The quality and effort put into KS4 –KS5 holiday work will be taken into account when courses and pathways are offered.
  • All students will be closely monitored in the first six weeks of Year 12 and where progress is insufficient their continuance considered.
  • Subjects will only be examined at the end of Year 13 and as a full A Level course.
  • Subject will not be examined at AS Level.
  • Students will be rigorously tracked throughout Year 12 and interventions put in place where necessary.
  • A formal end of year examination schedule will be in place for Year 12. Students will have study leave over the exam period.
  • Following Year 12 exams a review of a student’s potential and decisions about the number of A Levels they will continue to study will be made. In exceptional cases students may be invited to re-sit their end of Year 12 examination before a decision about continuance is finalised.
  • In exceptional circumstances we will allow subjects to be dropped in Year 12 to a minimum of 2 A Levels. These few students will then pick up an enrichment course.
  • Students beginning with 4 A Levels can drop to 3 A Levels but will not take an AS in the dropped A Level.
  • Any changes of A Level course have to be made by the 26th September 2019

How do I choose which A Level subjects to study?

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What am I good at?
  • What do I enjoy?
  • What do I want to study at university?
  • Look at courses you may be interested in on the UCAS website, and look at the entry requirements:
  • The Unifrog and U-Explore websites can also help:
  • Look at prospectus and other information in the careers section of the Learning Hub.
  • If you are not sure about what career you would like you can request a careers interview which will help you decide.