Martin Allen, letter, The Guardian 23/07/08
The real issue for Greg Watson (Cambridge exam chief…Guardian 22/07 http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2008/jul/22/alevels.gcses) is that too many young people are now passing A-levels, a qualification originally designed for the elite few. Faced with the demands of Government’s ‘standards agenda’, teachers increasingly ‘teach to test’, but it is also the case that youngsters, with traditional employment opportunities disappearing and recognising that vocational qualifications lack status, consider A-level to be the only route with currency.
Introducing the Pre-U, will only reinforce a new upper stream, mainly Independent schools, feeding directly to Russell universities.We do need to change the examination system, but not this way
Martin Allen and Patrick Ainley, letter The Guardian 18/06/08
Mike Baker raises some important points about A-levels
While it’s true that only a minority gain three grade As, the general rise in standards at A-level is to be welcomed, though it reflects a situation where more and more young people feel they have to “go to uni or die” to secure employment and avoid McJobs.
However, the invention of the A* is a desperate attempt by the government to ensure the A-level continues as the main currency for admission to university. It may already be too late as, in addition to preparing their students for the increasing array of individual university entrance exams, many of the leading independent schools are signing up for the Cambridge Pre-U.
Welcomed by elite universities, this new qualification returns to the original two-year linear A-level designed for 5% of higher education entrants in 1951. The Pre-U will guarantee what private school parents are paying for: entry to elite universities. With variable fees in 2010, income rather than academic performance will then be key to selection.
We should campaign for a comprehensive higher education. Rather than rearranging the A-level deck-chairs, we also need a mandatory general diploma for everybody