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Thursday, 12 July, 2001, 16:10 GMT 17:10 UK
A-level changes 'rushed through'
Teresa May
Ms May said the government had not thought things through
Changes to the A-level curriculum were rushed and ill-thought through, Conservative MPs claimed.

In a Commons debate on post-16 education, the shadow education secretary, Theresa May, said the introduction of AS-levels had increased the workload for students, causing them stress and confusion.

Estelle Mrris
Ms Morris admitted there had been implementation problems
The charge came a day after the government announced changes to the controversial AS-level curriculum, promising a reduction in the number of exams taken.

"There was too little time for their introduction, the exam boards complained they didn't have enough time to prepare the syllabus or materials," Ms May told MPs.

"The schools didn't have enough time to prepare, timetabling was a nightmare and most schools didn't receive extra funding.

"There is no doubt that at the heart of all these problems lies the government's rush to get the reforms through.

"Young people, parents and teachers have been suffering because the government simply didn't think things through and give enough time for proper preparation," Ms May said.

'More stress'

No one, who had been in contact over the past year with Year 12 students or their parents or teachers, could be in any doubt about the impact of the introduction of AS-levels had had, Ms May told MPs.

"Increased workload, more stress, fewer study periods and fewer extra curricular activities."


I admit that the way the AS-Levels reforms were introduced last year did not do credit to anybody who had responsibility for the implementation

Estelle Morris
These pupils had been the guinea pig year throughout their school career and would continue to be so with the new A2s in Year 13, she added.

She criticised the government's review of the changes to AS-levels, saying it had merely addressed one part of the problem - the exam timetabling.

But it was the increased workload throughout the year which had most concerned students, she said.

No credit

The Education Secretary, Estelle Morris, admitted: "They weren't the best implemented set of curriculum reforms that have ever happened."

"It is with sadness that I admit today that the way the AS-levels reforms were introduced last year did not do credit to anybody who had responsibility for the implementation," she told the Commons.

"I think we have to admit that and learn from that."

But the minister insisted that reform to broaden the post-16 curriculum was still necessary.

"I have not moved from that, a narrow curriculum in terms of three A-levels, is not sufficient to prepare our students for the world in which they will enter," Ms Morris said.

But the curriculum could not be widened without hard work on the part of students, she said.

It was the "easiest thing in the world" for the opposition to score "cheap political points" over the issue, she added.


Talking PointTALKING POINT
Exams slashed
Do the changes go far enough?

The latest on the new post-16 qualifications
Post-16 overload?

See also:

11 Jul 01 | UK Education
11 Jul 01 | UK Education
12 Jun 01 | UK Education
26 Jun 01 | UK Education
12 Jun 01 | New exams
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