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Monday, 1 July, 2002, 16:43 GMT 17:43 UK
Abolish AS-levels, say Tories
exam room door
Teenagers face exams at the ages of 16, 17 and 18
AS-level examinations have proved unsuccessful and should be scrapped, the Conservative party claimed.

The party said it was harmful to turn pupils' school years into "a never-ending grind of exams".


Exams are a measuring rod, not the purpose of education

Damian Green
The Shadow Education Secretary, Damian Green, said the added burden of AS-levels had forced students to give up extra-curricular activities such as sport, drama and music to make sure they succeeded on "the exam treadmill".

Mr Green joins a long list of critics of the AS-level exam, from head teachers' unions to the Duke of Edinburgh, who are concerned the changes to the curriculum in September 2000 have merely led to a generation of over-tested teenagers.

The new exams were brought in as a way of extending the ground covered by the traditional three A-levels.

But many students complained of a heavy workload and said they had abandoned many of the extra-curricular activities, such as the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme, valued by employers.

Three alternatives

Mr Green suggested AS-levels be replaced by an English version of the French Baccalaureate or a general studies paper on subjects not covered by mainstream A-levels.

"A third [alternative] is simply to encourage schools to teach non-examined subjects - exams are a measuring rod, not the purpose of education," said Mr Green.

Damian Green
Damian Green wants AS-levels scrapped
In a speech to the policy-making offshoot of the party, Connect, Mr Green said there had been numerous reports of individuals buckling under the stress.

"One girl fled from the exam hall in tears as she sat her fifth paper of the day. She had already faced her first four papers with only a ten-minute gap in between each.

"Another correspondent to our website said that at her college, in the first year of the introduction of AS levels, there were more cases of stress reported than ever before.

"After last year's fiasco with exams, the government promised a review. This year, they have promised another review.

"This is wholly inadequate. Our teenagers are being asked to do too many exams too often. Let's act now to relieve the burden," said Mr Green.

The 2001 changes

Latest developments

Background
See also:

08 Jun 02 | Mike Baker
06 Jun 02 | UK Education
06 Jun 02 | UK Education
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