- A-Levels are still affectionately referred to as the "gold standard" of school qualifications and the great majority of students in UK universities have gained entry via the A-Level route (in 2010 only 1.5% of UK undergraduates had gained entry with IB qualification).
Such is the reputation of A-Levels that entry to, not only British but also European and North American universities (over 450 institutions) is facilitated. In fact, North American universities offer A-Level holders university credits in Year 1.
- Universities in the UK normally base their offers of a place on just 3 subjects and typical offers from prestigious universities are in the range AAA to ABB. To specialise in 3 subjects is a rigorous, proven preparation for the challenges of university study which also offers a level of academic and intellectual challenge which is not possible in alternative systems. Aternative systems which require pupils to study 6 or more subjects cannot expect those subjects to be studied to the same depth. A child's opportunity to specialise is therefore limited which in turn hinders applications to universities that demand evidence of skills in analysis and critical thinking.
Where an alternative system might oblige a pupil to study 6 subjects plus extras the chances of an uneven, unpredictable performance is increased. It should be noted, for example, that in Greece between 10 - 15% of IB candidates score less than 24 points which means no diploma!
- Byron College, where pupils study chosen A-Level subjects, we have 100% pass rate and 100% successful placement into university.
- Furthermore, A-Levels are prescriptive – there is no restriction on the subjects that a candidate can study. The fact that a child is able to chose freely (with the support of an experienced team of advisors who guide the pupils to the sensible combination of subjects appropriate to their proposed university studies) ensures that A-Levels can provide a balance between depth and choice. There are unrivalled possibilities and the A-Level portfolio of subjects allows the needs and aptitudes of each individual pupil to be met.
In the academic year 2013-2014 the following subjects were offered:
- Arabic (AS)
- Art (AS and A2)
- Biology (AS and A2)
- Business and Economics (AS and A2)
- Chinese (AS and A2)
- Chemistry (AS and A2)
- French (AS)
- Applied Information and Communication Technology (AS and A2)
- Modern Greek (AS and A2)
- Further Maths (AS)
- Geography (AS)
- History (AS)
- Mathematics (AS and A2)
- Physics (AS and A2)
- Psychology (AS and A2)
- Russian (AS)
- Moreover, what underpins the A-Level GCE system is the potential for individualised study programmes. This quality of combining breadth with depth and specialization over two years, allows for the school to have a high degree of predictability about a pupil's eventual exam performance which will inform decisions on university choices.
It is no surprise, therefore, that A-Level candidates have a much better record of being accepted at their first-choice university than pupils from alternative systems.
- At Byron all of this is supplemented by additional learning and extension work that is flexible, current, topical and challenging. All the 6th Formers attend English classes in order to maintain their comprehension, note-taking, summary and writing skills at the highest level. Where possible all 6th Formers attend Physical Education classes and all are obliged to perform in-school community service as well as leading the school's voluntary and charity work in the Athens community.
The 6th Form at Byron continues to grow as an increasing number of pupils and parents become assured that the "gold standard" remains the key to proper preparation for tertiary education; that A-Levels offer a high degree of predictability when planning a child's future and that competitive universities are most comfortable in accepting A-Level graduates.