Due to the nature of the examination timetable, the vast majority of AS exams are completed by the beginning of June, and when Year 12 students return from this exam period and study leave, they commence their A2 courses. Students continue with all of their AS subjects until the end of the academic year, although we know a number of students will be reducing their A-level subjects from four to three at the beginning of Year 13. The reasoning behind the policy is based on experience. On a significant number of occasions, students have changed their minds about dropping subjects, particularly in light of their AS results. However, if they had stopped attending the A2 lessons, they would be not only six weeks behind, but also have missed the summer work that teachers set. Therefore, final decisions are not made until the start of Year 13 in consultation with subject teachers.
School policy is that all students should study 3 A-levels in Year 13. If a student achieves a D grade or above in a subject at AS, they can automatically continue with the subject at A2 level. They cannot carry onto A2 with a U grade. If they achieve an E grade, it is at the subject leader’s discretion if they can continue. In exceptional circumstances, a student will wish to drop from three to two A-levels. If this is the case, the student is expected to then select a further AS subject from the Year 12 timetable that does not clash with the A-levels they are studying on the Year 13 timetable. Work experience is another possibility in certain circumstances.
Progression into Year 13 is normally a straightforward process once subjects to be dropped or taken up have been finalised. We do, however, review all the Year 12 results and where we consider continuing with A2 studies will not be suitable, a meeting is arranged with the student and their parents to discuss the options for the future. Clearly, if a student really struggles in Year 12, the step up to A2 studies will only cause more stress. Fortunately, this is a relatively rare occurrence.