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Last Updated: Monday, 26 July, 2004, 13:50 GMT 14:50 UK
Plea to examiners over classics
Plans by a major exam board to drop Latin and ancient Greek have been challenged by the government.

The Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA) announced its plans in June as part of a "strategic review".

The decision means only one examiner, OCR, will offer classics at GCSE and A-level.

But the Schools Minister, Stephen Twigg has written to the AQA urging them to reconsider the move.

Mr Twigg is concerned state school pupils may be particularly disadvantaged by the decision, as AQA's syllabuses are more often used by state schools.

Last year more than 5,000 candidates sat Latin and Greek examinations with AQA - but just 89 took A-level Greek and 90 sat the AS-level.

Pupils starting GCSE and A-level courses this autumn will be the last cohort, with courses being withdrawn from 2006.

'Broad education'

A spokesperson for the Department for Education and Skills said: "We believe that it is important for schools to offer a broad and balanced education, providing opportunities for students to enjoy all aspects of the curriculum.

"Although pupils will still be able to undertake GCSE and A-level Latin and Greek through the OCR exam board we do recognise the concerns raised.

"Mr Twigg has written to the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance, urging it to reconsider its decision to withdraw Greek and Latin GCSE and A-level from the range of qualifications it offers to schools and colleges."

A spokeswoman for the AQA confirmed the board's director general, Dr Mike Cresswell, received Mr Twigg's letter on Thursday.

"We will be looking at that letter and responding to him in due course," the spokeswoman said.

"The points he is raising will be given consideration."

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