Curriculum 2000

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Curriculum 2000 was a reform of the A Level (age 16-18) examination in the United Kingdom. It was introduced in September 2000 (with the first AS-Level examinations held in Summer 2001 and A2 examinations the following year). An A Level now consists of four or six units studied over two years. Normally, two or three units are assessed at the end of the first year, and make up a stand-alone Advanced Subsidiary (AS Level) qualification. Another two or three modules are assessed at the end of the second year, which make up the A2 Level. A2 units do not form a qualification in their own right; the satisfactory completion of the AS and A2 units in the same subject is required to constitute a complete A Level.

Due to the modular structure, units can be taken in January and June of the year. To begin with each unit could only be retaken once, but there is now no limit on the number of times a unit may be retaken (although, in many schools, students must pay for any subsequent re-sits themselves), and no restrictions on when this is done (i.e. it is possible to take or retake AS units during the A2 year, and vice versa). Some schools choose to conduct all AS and A2 examinations at the end of the first or second years. In the former case, this means students complete the A-level in one year, which is possible for more academically able students. In the latter case, students do not have the opportunity to resit any units and have a more stressful workload at the end of their second year, although by reducing the amount of time taken for exam leave and conducting examinations, more time is available to study the subject in more depth.

Units are assessed by exam papers marked by national organisations and internally assessed coursework. Four organisations set and mark exam papers in England and Wales (Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA), Edexcel, Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations (OCR) and the Welsh Joint Education Committee). The Council for the Curriculum, Examinations & Assessment (CCEA) sets them in Northern Ireland. International exams managed by Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) also have A-levels in a variety of subjects.

The reaction to the new style and structure of qualifications was mixed; whilst many schools and colleges welcomed the increased flexibility and the nature of the modules, the Key Skills courses were increasingly targeted as a failure. Many students were exempt from taking these courses as they had the relevant GCSEs, leaving some classes empty. General apathy towards the courses from UCAS and most universities meant that Key Skills was dropped from some LEAs requirements by the end of 2003.

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