Exhausted pioneers

Tony Murphy (right) has just completed his A-levels at Loreto Catholic college, Manchester. He looks back on a tiring and stressful two years.

WITH our teachers, we have pioneered the post-16 reforms and it has been hard work.

We have had to deal with packed timetables, frequent external exams, and working towards unknown standards.

In response to Curriculum 2000, the college brought back bells, replaced free periods with study periods and increased attendance and punctuality checks. Our parents loved it! Most of us juggled school work with work in bars and fast-food restaurants.

I did four AS-levels in Year 12 - chemistry, physics, sociology and geography. In Year 13, I dropped chemistry. Most students took four AS subjects, as well as key skills, enrichment activities such as sports, two hours tutorial a week and a compulsory weekly RE lesson.

The new system let us make informed decisions, based on AS results, on which three subjects to take on to A2. Curriculum 2000 is much less of a "lottery" than the old A-level, where our older brothers and sisters sat three-hour papers and hoped that the things they revised would come up.

Despite our hard work, year after year students suffer the indignity of people proclaiming that "exams are getting easier." They seem to be blissfully ignorant of the massive efforts we and our teachers put in.

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