Rishi Sunak is reforming A-Levels with a new qualification. Known as the British Baccalaureate, it forms part of new plans which will see children study more subjects after the age of 16.
The latest proposals are part of his pledge to unveil new long-term plans to change Britain and create a more continental style of education.
Under the new plans, children would be required to study more subjects after the age of 16 while English and maths would remain compulsory until the age of 18.
The new proposals are in response to Mr Sunak’s commitment that all children will study maths until the age of 18.
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The new plans are unlikely to come into force until after the next election.
Despite this, Mr Sunak hopes that this will create a clear dividing line between Conservative and Labour policy.
A senior Government source told the Times that while the plans were clear, no final decision had been taken on what they would look like.
This isn’t the first time Mr Sunak has proposed these plans. He pitched them to the Conservative Party during his battle for leadership last year.
Since he became Prime Minister, Mr Sunak has focussed on prioritising other issues before turning his attention to education.
A source said Mr Sunak was now determined to address some of the “longer-term questions” facing the UK.
They said: “He came back from the summer with a series of things he wanted to move on. A-level reform is a critical part of it.”
Mr Sunak reportedly believes that children are being allowed to stop studying English and maths too early in life, hurting their long-term skills.
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Mr Sunak also reportedly wants to create a network of technical institutions with links to industry, a system modelled on Russell Group universities.
Former chairman of the education select committee Robert Halfon supports the new proposals.
He said: “The advantage of the British Baccalaureate is it will mean that students have a much wider curriculum so they get the skills that they need and employers want.”
However, Mr Sunak’s proposed and past policies have attracted criticism from people who believe the arts are being squeezed out.
The principal of the Royal Conservatoire in Scotland told the Times the Government has created a hostile environment for arts education.
In a letter, Jeffrey Sharkey said: “Our junior departments throughout the UK work with a wide cross-section of young people from all parts of the country.
“Colleagues have shared concerns about the decrease in access to high-quality and consistent performing arts training.
“The UK has some of the finest conservatoires in the world and if we want to nurture the next generation of homegrown artists there needs to be support and recognition of the importance and value of the arts at all levels of education.”
In a statement, a DfE spokesperson said: “Since 2010 we have made huge progress in driving up school standards and giving young people the best start in life, with record funding for schools and more full-time teachers than ever before.
“We have already taken steps to reform the post-16 qualifications landscape, including reforming technical education and delivering millions of new high-quality apprenticeships.
“Alongside this, we have set out bold plans to ensure that every young person studies some form of maths up to the age of 18 to give them the skills they need to succeed in the jobs of the future”
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