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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 27 March, 2002, 18:17 GMT
Students 'worn out by AS-levels'
classroom
Sixth-formers are overworked, teachers said

Teachers have called for "radical change" to sixth form studies, saying the introduction of AS-levels in 2000 had done students more harm than good.

At its annual conference in Cardiff, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) voted overwhelmingly in favour of a motion to restore the "motivation and educational enrichment" of students.

Mike Short, a teacher and exams officer at Corsham School in Wiltshire, said that the first year AS-level candidates had been "victims of perpetual change", because they had been the first to study the national curriculum from primary school onwards.


My daughter's experience of AS-levels last year was abysmal

Alison Sherratt, teacher
"My students in Year 13 are worn down by the drudgery of work," he said.

The changes to the sixth form programme had been "ill thought through" and students no longer had time to take part in the activities that enriched the life of the school and their own lives, he said.

He suggested more schools should opt to take the International Baccalaureate, where students study maths, science, a language and two or more other options from the age of 14.

His message to the government was plain: "Have courage for once - admit the mistakes."

'Abysmal'

Bradford nursery teacher Alison Sherratt told the conference of the hard work her Year 13 daughter was doing ahead of her A-levels this summer.

"Her experience of AS-levels last year was abysmal.

"In one of her exams she got a C - and then an A after it was remarked," Ms Sherratt said as delegates groaned in sympathy.

This year's Year 13 pupils should be thanked for being the guinea pigs of every new initiative, she said.

They had been "thrust in the trenches of the war of the curriculum", Ms Sherratt added.

Flexibility

The Education Secretary, Estelle Morris, dismissed the Baccalaureate idea, saying it would be difficult for many schools to introduce.

She said the changes she made after her appointment last summer meant AS-levels were now less of a burden, but schools were not exploring the latest options sufficiently.

Instead of forcing students to take exams in both January and June, all exams could now be taken at the end of the first year, she said.

"The option and flexibility not to have modular tests is there for schools if they want to use it."

See also:

12 Dec 00 | UK Education
28 Jan 00 | UK Education
09 Jul 98 | UK Education
21 May 01 | UK Education
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