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Letters extra: Photography not a soft option

This is in response to your item "Maths A-levels lose out in race for top grades" (TES May 31st 2002) where you listed the "least demanding A-level subjects as photography, art, sociology and computing".

Firstly it is sad to see yet again the press undermining the students' achievements at this time of year, when candidates are working so hard and under so much pressure. Many are simply doing their best at their chosen subjects and these comments, especially at this stage must be quite depressing.

Secondly, on what basis is this rather simplistic claim made?

Simply on national pass rates, after all that could raise many more intelligent questions, for example are more appropriate subject choices being made by these candidates? If there is real informative evidence, then as a teacher of two of these subjects I would be interested to see it.

Yes, in my own school students do do well in both art and photography, but through having selected a subject appropriate to their abilities and aptitudes and through their hard work, not because it is any easier. Yes it is different to maths, I should hope so!

Many of our students will comment every year that art and photography are their hardest subjects in terms of effort and time (a number of these also take maths). I will always remember a parent's comment last year, when their almost 100 per cent A* candidate was struggling in photography, that they thought "it was good for him since it was the first time he had had to work in his life and not simply rely on his natural abilities".

As a last point I would be interested to know why the endorsement of art-photography is separated from all the other art endorsements such as 3D, textiles etc. Could it be perhapsnbsp;that the writer has not noticed that it is no longer offered as a separate subject outside of art at either AS or A level?

Finally let's be positive for the students. I agree with setting high standards, but let's respect the different qualities which are assessed through the various subjects offered. Let's keep the richness of the educational experience alive.

Robin Widdowson
Backwell School
Bristol

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