BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: Education  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Wednesday, 19 June, 2002, 14:40 GMT 15:40 UK
Labour accused over exam overload
exam sign
Critics say young people in England are overtested
The number of examinations sat by young people in England should be significantly reduced, opposition MPs demanded.

The MPs called on the government to listen to teachers and pupils alike and address their concerns over exam overload.

In a Commons debate on Wednesday, the MPs criticised the introduction of AS-levels in 2000, saying students were overworked and timetables were chaotic as a result.

Andrew Turner
Mr Turner says too much pressure has been put on schools
Former teacher and Conservative MP for the Isle of Wight Andrew Turner accused the government of control and interference.

"The government's attempts to control the examination system are like the government's attempts to control everything else."

Mr Turner admitted his own party had started the process by merging O-level and CSE exams in the 1980s.

But he said: "I am concerned that this government has carried through and worsened significantly the steps we took in the 1980s."

Constant changes to the exam system and content were undermining a respected education industry, he added.

'Year of cramming'

Liberal Democrat MP David Rendel said the introduction of AS-levels has taken all the fun out of the lower sixth, making it a year of cramming for exams.


The Edexcel board went from marking four million papers to 10 million in, I believe, six months

Tory MP Caroline Spelman
He warned: "A significant proportion of those who leave the teaching profession cite as their reason for doing so the lack of opportunities for exercising their professional judgement and creativity."

"It's no surprise either that we now face a teacher retention and recruitment crisis."

Conservative MP Stephen O'Brien said the lower sixth year should be a "chance to breathe".

He urged the government to drop AS-levels to allow students to concentrate on extra curricular activities.

'Too many changes'

Shadow international development secretary Caroline Spelman said AS-levels were "one set of exams too many".

She said the government had rushed to implement too many changes in 2000, leaving exam boards - like Edexcel - struggling to cope.

"The Edexcel board went from marking four million papers to 10 million in, I believe, six months," she said.

It was now time for the government to listen to teachers themselves, she said.

Review

The junior education minister, Stephen Twigg, said he would review the situation but stressed there would be "no headlong rush" to change things.

"We will review this in the way we did last year," Mr Twigg promised.

"There were very legitimate concerns raised by pupils, raised by members of this House following the experience of last year and... very significant changes were made last year in response to the concerns that were raised."

The 2001 changes

Latest developments

Background
Links to more Education stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Education stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes