Perceptions of the A level system remain largely positive among teachers, parents, students and the general public. The high level of confidence in the A level qualification, in evidence since 2003, has been maintained in 2009, with teachers, parents and students continuing to believe that the A level is an important qualification to obtain.
The majority of all audiences surveyed believe that most students taking A levels get the grade their performance deserves. That said there has been a slight increase in the proportion of A level teachers who believe the accuracy and quality of marking has decreased over the past two years, although teachers who hold this view continue to be in the minority.
Confidence in the GCSE system overall remains high and unchanged from 2008 and students continue to believe that the GCSE is an important qualification to obtain. Teachers, parents and students remain confident in the quality and accuracy of GCSE marking and the majority think most or all GCSE students get the right grade.
Overall familiarity with the Diploma remains unchanged among teachers in 2009 and a significant proportion continue to know very little about the new qualification. Overall confidence in the Diploma is also relatively low among teachers, although when asked specifically whether the Diploma will meet a number of its key objectives, the majority are positive. Parents of students who have actually experienced the Diploma are much more positive than teachers.
Levels of awareness of Ofqual have risen significantly among teachers, but remain low and unchanged among the public. There has also been a sharp increase in perceptions of the effectiveness of Ofqual compared with 2008.
Ipsos MORI was commissioned by Ofqual to carry out an eighth wave of research to assess perceptions of the A level and GCSE exam system shortly after the end of the 2009 examinations session. The main aim of the research, which has been carried out annually since 2003, was to track perceptions of the GCSE and A level examination system among teachers, parents, students and the general public and for the first time in 2009, the Diploma. Background to the research, including a comprehensive list of survey objectives, is detailed in the introduction to this report.
Interviews with the following audiences were conducted between 9th November and 11th December 2009:
- 500 telephone interviews with teachers of AS level, A level or GCSEs in a representative sample of schools in England;
- 1,774 face-to-face interviews with members of the general public aged 15+ in England;
- 112 face-to-face interviews students who are just about to take, are currently taking, or have recently taken, A levels and/or GCSEs; and
- 290 face-to-face interviews with parents of children who are just about to take, are currently taking, or have recently taken, A levels and/or GCSEs.