philmophlegm (philmophlegm) wrote,
philmophlegm
philmophlegm

A-level subjects

At work this week we received a letter from a year 11 student at one of the local grammar schools who was interested in the JOLF 'We'll-pay-your-university-fees' scheme and wanted to know if doing the international baccalaureate instead of A-levels would affect her chances.

As it happens, it wouldn't.

However, one thing that students who are deciding which A-levels would do well to consult is this list of A-levels on the website of Trinity College, Cambridge.

This ties in to my recent social mobility posts. At the schools I visit for "You're Hired!", the range of available A-level courses varies from school to school. Want to do Economics? Then you have to go to the independent school or two of the three grammar schools. The others don't even offer it. At the school I went to last week (in a poorer area of the city), almost no subjects were offered that Trinity would have considered A1 or A2 calibre A-levels. I didn't say anything to the teacher there who proudly explained how most of his students were now taking A-level "Travel & Tourism", and how a BTEC was "worth four GCSEs", but I probably should have.

Expect at some point to see some negative press coverage of Cambridge colleges discriminating against comprehensive school pupils. But it's not their fault if those schools don't allow their pupils to study proper subjects.


As an aside, it's nice to see both History and Classical Civilisation in the A2 ("Generally suitable Arts A-levels") list. At my state sixth-form, they tried to persuade me to change from A-level Greek & Roman History because "it wouldn't look good if I applied to Oxbridge". Luckily I was clever enough to work out that Oxford probably wouldn't object to a classical education, and knowing that subject helped me enormously in my Philosophy interview.
Tags: education, you're hired!
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