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EDITIONS
Monday, 12 August, 2002, 09:40 GMT 10:40 UK
Call for exam reforms
exam room
A-level results are due later this week
Claims that A-level results will increase again this year have increased calls for the reform of the exam system.

The Conservatives have repeated their demand for AS-levels to be scrapped, saying this would restore confidence in the exam system.

The Secondary Heads Association (SHA) has said it believes A-level results could well rise again.

Last year, the pass rate reached 90.2%, according to final figures from the Joint Council for General Qualifications, which represents the main exam boards in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Getting easier

Assistant general secretary of SHA, Bob Carstairs, said he did not see any reason why A-level results would not rise again this year.

And he said students should ignore claims that the exams were getting easier.

"Every year, we get the same old thing. If results go down, it's bad teaching," he said.

"If they go up, it's easing of standards.

"Schools, teachers and children are all pulling together and improved results are a reflection of that."

Over-examined

The Shadow Education Secretary Damian Green said the Tories would abolish AS-levels and hold an independent audit of exam quality.

In a speech last month, he said children's schooling had been turned into a "a never-ending grind of exams" and that AS-levels should be scrapped.

Speaking to BBC News, he said AS-levels were doing more harm than good.

"At the moment, you finish your GCSEs and are then constantly examined all the time," he said.

"This discourages people from carrying on with sport, drama and music and it is narrowing their experience of life, not broadening it which they (AS-levels) were meant to do."

The employers' organisation, the Institute of Directors, also supports the idea of a shake-up.

Head of policy, Ruth Lea, says confidence in the system would only be restored if A-levels were replaced and re-named.

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 ON THIS STORY
Shadow education spokesman Damian Green
"AS-levels are doing more harm than good..."
See also:

12 Aug 02 | UK Education
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