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Thursday, 17 May, 2001, 01:34 GMT 02:34 UK
Heads call for abolition of GCSEs
teacher helping pupil
Teachers were put off becoming heads, it was claimed
The GCSE examination should be scrapped and replaced by a new phase of education for 14 to 19 year olds, head teachers say.

Our pupils are the most over-examined in the industrialised world

David Hart, NAHT
The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) wants to see a more rigorous and significant testing procedure for pupils aged 14, leading to a broad-based post-14 curriculum.

The framework would allow students to take up vocational or academic studies - or a mixture of both - and put an end to over-specialisation at 16 and the steady stream of examinations from 14 to 18, the NAHT says.

Giving details of the union's election 2001 manifesto, general secretary of the NAHT, David Hart, said: "Our pupils are the most over-examined in the industrialised world".

"A genuine broadening of the curriculum, based on a Baccalaureate approach, would bring this country's education system into the 21st century," Mr Hart said.

Too much pressure

"The pressure on students post-16 now is quite enormous and a lot are having to be counselled.

"We need to get away from this ridiculous situation where we examine pupils at 14, 16, 17 and 18 and adopt a more radical and mature approach to post-14 education," he said.

But the introduction of this system, mirroring the European and Scottish approach, would depend on raising standards for 11 to 14 year olds, Mr Hart added.

The NAHT also wants a broad and balanced curriculum for pupils aged three to eleven (foundation, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2).

Class sizes

The NAHT's manifesto also urges the in-coming government to get class sizes in primary schools down to 25 pupils and to reduce class sizes for secondary age children.

David Hart
David Hart: "Post-14 education needs a radical re-think"
The funding offered to schools by the next government must be sufficient for schools to deliver a high standard of education for all pupils, the NAHT argues.

And the funding system must end the unfair disparities between schools.

Not surprisingly, the NAHT's manifesto calls on the political parties to introduce a comprehensive recruitment and retention package that attracts teachers of the right quality - and in the right quantity - to all schools.

Pay levels for classroom teachers, middle management, and school leaders should truly reflect their responsibilities.

Any bureaucracy which does not play a part in raising standards should be abolished and the number of government initiatives significantly reduced.

The NAHT is also seeking to have "a real level" of professional autonomy restored to the teaching profession.

League tables

League tables must be based on value-added performance measures, with non-academic targets being valued.

Inspections by the education watchdog, Ofsted, should be based on self-evaluation, providing support and advice as well as independent assessment, the NAHT argues.

The NAHT also wants head teachers to have greater management freedom to run schools as they see fit, being accountable to strategic governing bodies.

The issue of disruptive pupils is also covered in the manifesto, with the union demanding "support for reasonable decisions of heads and governors over pupil exclusions and admissions".

And there must be better liaison between the education sector and other services - such as the health service, social services and the police - to meet the needs of children in deprived areas, the NAHT says.

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See also:

23 Mar 01 | Education
Heads demand end to teacher crisis
20 Nov 00 | Education
More teachers but shortages remain
28 Jul 00 | Education
Schools sink in sea of paper
04 Aug 00 | Education
Cash offer to recruit teachers
10 Aug 00 | Education
Heads' cash claim rejected
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