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Monday, 4 June, 2001, 10:09 GMT 11:09 UK
Blair school shuns AS-levels
The London Oratory School
Following an independent path on AS levels
The school attended by two of the Prime Minister's children has gone against government advice by deciding not to put its lower sixth students through AS-level exams this summer.

It is understood The London Oratory School, in Fulham in south west London, has chosen to leave exams just to the second year of the sixth form, as many independent schools have done.

There has been an outcry from many head teachers about the AS programme, introduced in England and Wales last September.

They say the exams, coming just a year after GCSEs, put too much strain on pupils and might weaken their chances of doing well in the standard A-levels.

Broadening the curriculum

The new sixth-form curriculum is aimed at broadening the range of subjects covered.

Pupils are allowed to study four or five AS-levels in the lower sixth before going on to study A-levels in the upper sixth.

At The London Oratory School, it is understood sixth formers will take three A-Levels plus one AS-level at the end of the second year.

Tony Blair's eldest son - Euan, who is 17 - is in the lower sixth at the Oratory, which is a Roman Catholic state school.

Euan was recently appointed as a deputy head boy for the next academic year.

Key Skills

It is also believed that just 20 of the Oratory's sixth formers are taking Key Skills (the new qualifications intended to make school-leavers more employable) in numeracy, communication and information and communication technology.

The head of the Oratory, John McIntosh, is a member of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT).

The general secretary of the union, David Hart, said there was a need for an urgent review of the system after its first year.

He is not surprised at the Oratory's stance.

"That seems to me to fit in with what a number of independent schools are doing.

"They will want to stick with the old curriculum."

Mr Hart added: "The private schools reckon that the universities will ignore the AS-level results and Key Skills and they will continue to concentrate on the traditional three A-levels.

"John McIntosh's school in any case has been so close to the independent sector for so many years in terms of its ethos and the way it is run that it doesn't surprise me in the least.

The NAHT recently called for A-levels and GCSEs to be scrapped and replaced with a French-style system covering the 14-19 age group, who would take a number of Baccalaureate-style exams at the end.

See also:

06 May 01 | UK Education
02 Jun 01 | UK Education
25 Mar 01 | UK Education
25 Jun 00 | UK Education
31 May 01 | UK Education
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