A-levels! A-levels! A-levels! With whole careers and futures dependant on one’s chosen degree, which is entirely determine by the A-levels one’s acquires, no wonder students turn up on opening days for Colleges/Sixth Forms appearing confused, uncertain and altogether anxious to get their selections right. Afraid of choosing the wrong one, afraid of saying the wrong answer, afraid of failure and strangely enough success, there is far too much fear in education today and it translates itself to the students.
But that cannot be the meaning of an ‘education’, nor surely what we actually desire from ourselves; we should be bold in our choices, unafraid of new challenges and education should help us with this. Help determine who we are, what it is we actually want to do and who we are going to be.
That may sound supercilious, especially coming from a Law teacher in London, but I believe that it is more necessary then people realize, especially now where there is a large portion of students dropping out of university in the first year of their degree. Some transfer to a new degree, others never return, which is unfortunately particularly true for Law students.
Don’t mistake me, the majority who aim for the law profession find the degree the most exciting and challenging time of their lives, loving it from the first energetic moment to the last exhausting one. However many, (too many), find the degree a shock, even a horror, and entirely different from what they expected – and so they feel disappointed, gutted and the wasted effort of a year and the futility of their education.
That is why A-level law is essential, and should be undertaken by every would-be law student. It is like a sample of the degree, covering numerous mini-topics such as Public, Criminal, Tort, and Contract - giving students a real flavour of their future goal, as it requires an in-depth knowledge of case law and theory – so much so that ex-students tell me it is almost like the first year of the degree itself. Yet, many students opt not to take it, so afraid of the myth - that if they take A-level law the Universities would not accept them – that they prefer to believe this over the reality, when today the majority of top-ranking universities accept it as an appropriate A-level.
Moreover, Sixth Form Colleges should give students every chance and experience available to prepare them for their chosen degree and profession. This is probably why I am so happy to work at Ashbourne Sixth Form, as they give their teachers a free hand in anticipating their students’ needs. Thus we supply information on the BNATS, the LNATS, invite universities to speak to our students, arrange work experience, days out to experience Uni life and lectures, along with providing mentorship for students from their chosen profession when available. Students need to know what direction they are heading in, and the only way to do that is let them experience it for themselves, including A-level Law.