Rishi Sunak today announced plans to scrap A-levels and T-levels by combining them into a new single qualification known as the ‘Advanced British Standard’.
In his Tory conference speech, the Prime Minister outlined how the international baccalaureate-style qualification would see pupils study at least five subjects.
Every student will be required to study some form of maths and English to age 18, Mr Sunak said.
He also set out his wish to boost the number of hours that British students spend in the classroom after the age of 16 so it matches other countries.
As he detailed his education shake-up, Mr Sunak said he was ‘pulling one of the biggest levers we have to change the direction of our country’.
He told the Conservative conference in Manchester: ‘We will introduce the new rigorous, knowledge rich Advanced British Standard which will bring together A-Levels and T-Levels into a new, single qualification for our school leavers.
‘First, this will finally deliver on the promise of parity of esteem between academic and technical education because all students will sit the Advanced British Standard.
‘Second, we will raise the floor, ensuring that our children leave school literate and numerate.
‘Because with the Advanced British Standard all students will study some form of English and maths to 18, with extra help for those who struggle most. In our country no child should be left behind.
‘Third, our 16- to 19-year-olds spend around a third less time in the classroom than some of our competitors. We must change this.
‘So, with our Advanced British Standard, students will spend at least 195 hours more with a teacher.
‘And fourth, A-Level students, generally, only do three subjects compared to the seven studied by our economic competitors.
‘The Advanced British Standard will change that too, with students now, typically, studying five subjects.
‘And thanks to the extra teaching time that we are introducing this greater breadth won’t come at the expense of depth which is such a strength of our system.’
Mr Sunak acknowledged his plans would require ‘more teachers in the coming years’.
He announced plans to lure people into teaching key subjects in schools and colleges with tax-free bonuses of up to £30,000 over the first five years of their career.
The PM also promised to make education his ‘main funding priority’ in every review of Whitehall spending.
‘Why? Because it is the closest thing we have to a silver bullet,’ he said.
‘It is the best economic policy, the best social policy, the best moral policy. It the best way to spread opportunity and to create a more prosperous society.
‘It is not just my way. It is the Conservative way.’
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said the new Advanced British Standard would ‘transform post-16 education so that every child, wherever they live, wherever they come from, receives an education that sets them up for success’.