Choosing your A-level (or equivalent) subjects carefully is vitally important – especially if you have aspirations to study at a leading university. Universities look for students who not only have good grades, but grades in the right subjects for the course they want to apply for. Ministers frequently stress the importance of social mobility, and the need for the most disadvantaged to access the best universities, yet too many, because of poor,  or no,   guidance in schools, are choosing subjects that limit their opportunities to apply to the top universities and their courses  and  to  ease  their access to  the professions. Guidance remains a post code lottery , and delays in the governments Careers strategy are not helping. Ministers love talking about ladders of opportunity,and creating rungs on this ladder, but what happens too often is that young people start the long climb then  find that the rungs above them  are missing.

The government’s current policy is to promote and incentivise participation in the so called facilitating subjects at A level.  Indeed this is a 16-18 Accountability Measure for 16-18 providers ( that  applies to A level students only) . A student must have achieved three A levels, of which at least two are in facilitating subjects, at grades AAB. The percentage of students achieving this measure is shown for each provider. These subjects are known as ‘facilitating’ because choosing them at advanced level leaves open a wide range of options for university study.

The facilitating subjects are biology, chemistry, English literature, geography, history, physics, modern and classical languages, maths and further maths and Classical/Modern Languages


The Classical modern languages that  will count towards the AAB in 2016 16-18 Performance Tables indicator are: Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Greek (Classical), Greek (Modern), Gujarati, Irish (second language), Italian, Japanese, Latin, Modern Hebrew, Panjabi, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Turkish, Urdu, Welsh (second language)


In 2016, 50.6 per cent of A level entries were  in facilitating subjects, a slight drop compared to 50.8 per cent in 2015 shadow data.


Please also see Russell Groups ‘Informed Choices’


And DFE 16-19 Accountability Measures: Technical Guide For measures in 2016 and 2017


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