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Jane Davidson, Assembly Education Minister
"When you introduce a new system, it is important you do a proper review"
 real 56k

Tuesday, 12 June, 2001, 19:03 GMT 20:03 UK
A-level shake-up adds to exam nerves
A-level student celebrating
Students no longer have a results 'safety net' in place
Students who fail to get the right A-level grades this summer will not be able to re-sit their exams, following key changes to sixth form courses.

The old-style A-level is being overhauled and replaced later this year with a new system of studying.

This will mean pupils with lower than expected grades could potentially end up having to start their courses over again.

A-level students celebrating
Results this summer are crucial to those seeking university places
The changes affect pupils studying core A-levels such as English and history, which will see changes to their course content and questions set at exams.

But many schools in Wales have reported problems in coping with the alterations to the sixth form curriculum.

Some staff and students are said to be under considerable strain to make the changes workable.

The changes were brought about by the Department of Education last September.

Assembly Education Minister Jane Davidson said the alterations would be monitored as students began the new course work.

But many heads are still facing the difficulty of trying to find places for 13,000 extra students, who must now take the new national exams in the first year as well as the final year of their A-level courses.

Careful controls

For students at schools such as those at Whitchurch High School, in Cardiff, the thought of failing to get the right grades has been pushed to their backs of their minds.

The school has also been chosen for a pilot scheme of a Welsh-style international baccalaureate qualification, which will see students study a mix of six science and humanity subjects.

If the project proves a success, the system could see Welsh sixth forms moving away from their English counterparts.

Meanwhile, the safety net of re-takes for those who have struggled with their A-level studies or revision has been taken away.

The new Education Secretary Estelle Morris said she will take a careful look at how the new exams work.

A spokesman for the Welsh Assembly said they would have an input into any review of the A-S level system.

He added that it was too early to tell if there are any problems in Wales but said they will be keeping a close eye on the situation.

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See also:

06 Jun 01 | Education
Heads call for A-levels inquiry
05 Jun 01 | Education
Goodbye GCSEs?
25 May 01 | Education
So what are Key Skills?
02 Jun 01 | Education
Exams stretch schools to the limit
30 May 01 | Education
Sixth form overload 'shambles'
25 May 01 | Education
Tests changed after security breach
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