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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 12 September, 2001, 15:37 GMT 16:37 UK
AS-levels 'to be sat in half a day'
Exam room
Many students had exam clashes this summer
Students due to take AS-levels exams across England, Wales and Northern Ireland next summer will be able to sit all the papers for each subject in a single half-day session.

From 2002, 80% of AS-exams will not exceed three hours, says the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), which is responsible for a review of the revised post-16 curriculum.


Although extending the examination period is almost inevitable, it does mean the loss of yet more teaching time

Association of Teachers and Lecturers
The QCA says the administration of exams in schools and colleges will be simplified and the number of clashes reduced.

The exam timetable will be extended from two and a half weeks to three weeks - prompting concern from some that teaching time will be reduced.

Under Curriculum 2000, which was introduced last September, sixth formers are expected to take four or five AS-Levels in their first year, before narrowing down their choices to three A-Levels - or A2s as they are called - in the second.

'Shambles'

But unions branded the situation a shambles, schools complained of scenes of chaos with dozens of exams clashes and students despaired of heavy workloads.

As a result of these concerns, the Education Secretary, Estelle Morris ordered the urgent review by the QCA.

Estelle Morris
Estelle Morris was under pressure to review the situation
Welcoming the improvements, Ms Morris, admitted timetable clashes and heavy assessment burdens had affected many students this summer.

"We are determined to make sure next year's AS students do not face the same problems, and have acted quickly to reduce them," said Ms Morris.

"Streamlining units, enabling a complete AS to be taken in half a day, and reforming the exam timetable will enable AS students to give their best in summer 2002."

General secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, John Dunford, welcomed the changes.

"The reduction in the assessment burden and the improvement in the examination timetable will do much to avoid the problems experienced by the first AS cohort," said Mr Dunford.

Teaching time reduced

But the news were not positively received by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL).

Deputy general secretary, Gwen Evans, said: "We are not convinced that clashes will be eliminated - indeed they may be worse for candidates who face nine hours of exams in a day".

"Although extending the examination period is almost inevitable, it does mean the loss of yet more teaching time.  The system is still very burdensome for young people," she said.

Schools and colleges will receive details of the changes this week and more information will be released by the QCA on 17 October.


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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