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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 24 July, 2001, 15:57 GMT 16:57 UK
AS-level stress hits Duke's award
Duke of Edinburgh in Jamaica presenting a gold award
The Duke is committed to a broad-based education
Prince Philip has expressed concern that AS-level students have been pulling out of his award scheme because of the pressure of their studies.

Anecdotal evidence suggests up to half of those who hold a silver Duke of Edinburgh's Award have decided not to take up the challenge of gold, normally achieved by 5,000 young people each year.

But the Duke said it was "absolutely vital" that young people received a broad-based education.


I believe passionately about the need for a broad education and all that goes beyond the academic, of which the Duke of Edinburgh's Award is just one part

Vice-Admiral Mike Gretton
His words echo those of teachers and students who complained that extracurricular activities were being squeezed out of the timetable.

Following a review of the curriculum, the Education Secretary, Estelle Morris, promised to cut the number of exams next year's AS-level students will sit.

Heavier load

Director of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award, Vice-Admiral Mike Gretton, said: "People running the award in schools are saying 'Hey, life is just so much busier for young people and teachers'."

While there would be no official statistics available until next June, the increased exam load was definitely affecting participation at the gold level, which is open to those aged 16 and over, Admiral Gretton said.

"When I've been going around presenting silver awards about 50% tell me they're worried about their AS-levels and are leaving it there.

"It's a shame - I believe passionately about the need for a broad education and all that goes beyond the academic, of which the Duke of Edinburgh's Award is just one part."

Teachers too were feeling the extra burden of work.

"Teachers are under increasing demands on their professional lives and therefore finding teachers to go that extra mile we anticipate becoming an increasing problem," he said.

Right concept

But Admiral Gretton stressed that he - and the organisation - were in favour of the concept of AS-levels broadening the post-16 curriculum.

Estelle Morris
Estelle Morris promised a cut in the number of exams sat
And he remained confident that participation levels among sixth formers for the award would improve.

Prince Philip was informed of the situation at a meeting of trustees.

Admiral Gretton said the Duke did not "knock" AS-levels, but emphasised his view that education must be rounded and the barriers to that must be removed.

The Duke of Edinburgh's Award, which began in 1956, is designed to support the personal and social development of young people aged 14-25.

It comprises a range of voluntary, non-competitive activities, such as service, expeditions, physical recreation and residential projects (for the Gold Award only).

The challenge is taken up by young people in 60 countries worldwide.


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
21 May 01 | UK Education
11 Apr 01 | UK Education
30 May 01 | UK Education
12 Jun 01 | UK Education
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