Education CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by Teresa Kelly, Abingdon and Witney College

1. The number of hours you teach and whether you use exactly the recommended number of hours that are set per subject or go over that (guided learning hours)

This very much depends on the qualification that is being followed by the students.

For AS/A2 we do teach more than the recommended hours. The main reason for this is that our experience has shown us that for many of our students they need the additional direct teaching by a specialist member of staff in order to maximise their grade potential. In addition, we offer an A level offer in partnership with three schools in Abingdon and the hours per taught subject are common across all four organisations.

A third factor in teaching over the recommended hours is the point in the year that the exams take place. Those courses requiring coursework demand that assignments are submit often as early as April.

For Entry level qualifications we also teach more than the recommended hours. The recommended hours for Entry 1 and 2 are extremely low and do not reflect at all the ability of the student to complete with such a low (sometimes 30 hours) hourly allocation.

However, for some qualifications we teach less than the recommended hours such as many of the BTEC qualifications and we balance the specialist teaching with a range of additional enrichment in order to provide a full and balanced programme for the individual student.

2. Your views on the benefits and drawbacks of a single exam board

Whilst the benefits of a single exam board in terms of the administration and time spent by colleges would be very attractive, a single exam board would not cater for the needs of the majority of young people 16—19 who are taking vocational examinations and would be unlikely to satisfy the demands of the sector skills councils and the world of employment.

A single exam board would make sense for GCSE and AS/A2 as it would assist with those students transferring during the two years and would also eliminate any attempt to maximise performance through the selection of particular boards or syllabi.

3. Your views on the time of year we should be examining children, and whether this should be earlier in the year?

For the majority of our students examination earlier in the year would put them at a disadvantage. Unlike the school population taking GCSE, FE students usually only have nine months to study for and learn the content relating to a GCSE examination. Even if they have taken GCSE in a particular subject before there is no relevance to the GCSE they may take in a college.

4. Do you enter children for GCSE examinations in year 10 or year 9, how many, the proportion of children this is and in what subjects?

Does not apply to FE Colleges as all students entering full time are a minimum of 16

5. Whether you enter children for A level in year 10/11/12/13 and the proportions.

Again—Colleges would only enter students doing AS/A2 in the equivalent to years 12 and 13 in school. The majority of year 12 equivalents would be studying for AS and the majority of year 13 equivalents would be studying for A2

January 2012

Prepared 2nd July 2012