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Exhausted by theA-level marathon

WE are a group of very weary, stressed secondary science teachers who have spent the past eight weeks, including our two-week Easter holiday, marking coursework for our Years 11, 12 and 13 classes.

Each of us has marked between 90 and 160 pieces of coursework, spending some 20 to 30 minutes on each piece and this is all in addition to our normal marking load.

This is the second year we have undertaken this exhausting marathon which is the result of the imposition of Curriculum 2000 upon our post-16 students.

We are fully supportive of the primary aim of the new curriculum - that of broadening the education of young people. However, our experience of the first two years has made us very aware of the increased pressures upon our students and upon us, their teachers.

The pursuit of four AS subjects fills the school timetable and leaves no space for the provision of enriching extra-curricular activities which are vital for developing both the academic and social maturity of our students.

The AS syllabuses are very prescriptive and content-heavy - our students are being "crammed", with the consequent danger of a loss in their genuine interest in the subjects.

Our final concern and the primary cause of our present exhaustion, is the inclusion of practical coursework in Year 12 which has to be marked and submitted, as does Years 11 and 13, by the beginning of May.

We can see no educational value in examining one year of A-level coursework. It would be far more beneficial to the students to examine, as was the case prior to Curriculum 2000, a two-year programme of practical coursework.

As you can probably appreciate, it would also be beneficial to the health and morale, and ultimately to the retention of their teachers.

Judy Berle, and five others

The Henrietta Barnett school

Central Square

Hampstead Garden Suburb

London NWl

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