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EDITIONS
Monday, 8 July, 2002, 15:48 GMT 16:48 UK
Students 'stressed by exam overload'
student writing
AS-level examinations continue to cause a storm
The continuous assessment of young people aged between 16 and 18 has been attacked as "barmy" by the head teacher of an independent school.

Gwen Randall, head of Framlingham College in Suffolk, said it was little wonder that medical staff at the school had seen an increase in the number of young people suffering from stress.


Reforms to the new AS and A2 system have amounted to no more than mere tinkering

Gwen Randall, Framlingham College
Speaking at the school's annual speech day on Saturday, Mrs Randall attacked the government's review of AS-levels following complaints last year, saying it had failed to make any real improvement.

"Last year, I expressed my concerns about examination overload in the lower sixth year.

"Education Secretary Estelle Morris had indicated that there would be a review as already - even before AS results for the first cohort were collated - the cracks were beginning to show," Mrs Randall said.

Exam treadmill
Year 9 - English, maths, science tests
Year 11 - GCSEs
Year 12 - AS-levels
Year 13 - A2s
"The frankly barmy practice of subjecting pupils to examination assessment in Year 11, then in Year 12, then in Year 13 continues unabated.

"Reforms to the new - and rightly maligned - AS and A2 system have amounted to no more than mere tinkering.

"The minister's crusading words were hollow," Mrs Randall said.

Exam boards

Mrs Randall also spoke of the "glaring inadequacies" of the examination boards.

"One year, for example, we sent no fewer that 26 A-level papers back for remarking - 26 were upgraded," she said.

She went on to criticise the government for unleashing "initiative overload" on the education system.

Independent schools were not immune from national reforms in education, she said.

"As teacher morale weakens in the state sector, so we too find it more difficult to recruit committed men and women into the profession," said Mrs Randall.

Risk taking

Mrs Randall said the college must continue to give pupils the chance to take part in risky activities such as rugby and skiing.

"We must be utterly responsible in our planning, procedures and preparation, taking every reasonable precaution of course.

"But you cannot sanitise life. You cannot eliminate danger. There is no magic wand which will eradicate tragedies."

Tours to South Africa and Peru must continue, as must the school's strong tradition of rugby.

"There is a new sinister, insidious danger in society today which threatens to choke us all to death - that danger is vexatious litigation," she warned.

The 2001 changes

Latest developments

Background
See also:

05 Jul 02 | UK Education
01 Jul 02 | UK Education
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