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Monday, 11 September, 2000, 16:30 GMT 17:30 UK
Sixth formers' 50-hour week
Sixth formers
Widening the A-level curriculum has increased hours
Sixth formers have longer hours of studying than the European Union's maximum working week, says a head teachers' union.

The widening of the A-level system means that pupils are working an average of 50 hours a week, says the Secondary Heads Association, with increases in class time, coursework and homework.

"This is putting a lot of pressure on young people," said the union's general secretary, John Dunford, particularly for those teenagers who also have part-time jobs.

John Dunford
John Dunford says longer hours have added to the pressure on young people
This term has seen the introduction of AS-levels - qualifications that are taken at the end of the first year of sixth form (or its equivalent in college).

This is intended to help pupils study a wider range of subjects for an extra year - before they specialise in three "full" A-levels in the second year.

But although supporting the principle of broadening the curriculum, the union's general secretary, John Dunford, says that it means long hours and increased stress for pupils.

"Heads will be looking out for pupils who might feel that it's all getting too much for them," said Mr Dunford.

The findings on pupil hours are from a straw poll of head teachers, which also found that there were problems with increased class sizes and staff shortages.

Widening the curriculum has meant either larger classes or more lesson time for teachers in most schools, said Mr Dunford.

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See also:

25 Jun 00 | Education
Schools 'to embrace exam reforms'
10 Dec 99 | Education
Extra cash for A-level reform
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