Commenting on ‘A narrowing path to success’, a study by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) of A Levels and a narrowing of curriculum breadth, Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:  

“This report confirms our fears that curriculum breadth has diminished. Coupled with a change in funding formula, this means students are getting less access now to a broad range of qualifications at level 3 than they were before the reforms were implemented. 

“When the A and AS level reforms were taking place, we were clear that the de-coupling of AS levels from A levels would have a significant detrimental impact on the curriculum offer and on achievement, because the de-coupling of AS levels would disincentivise students to take them in the future. 

“We agree with EPI that the curriculum at level 3 should not be squeezed even further in terms of its breadth, and the government proposal to de-fund Level 3 Applied General Qualifications, such as BTECs, only adds to the reduction in curriculum range available to young people. 

“A broad education is vital for young people and our society in the 21st century. A narrowing of choice at A level will also have a knock-on effect on the subjects which teachers will be qualified to teach in the future, sending us into a downward spiral of diminishing diversity. If Government truly wants a 'world-class' education system that promotes both academic achievement and the development of skills for employment, we need both better funding and a thorough review of the assessment and qualifications system.”