A-levels pass the test with teachers

Teacher confidence in A-levels is at a five-year high, although most staff have concerns about individual aspects of the exams and support for GCSEs is falling, a survey for the exams watchdog revealed today.

Schools are more relaxed about A-levels than at any time since the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority began surveying them in 2003, with 70 per cent saying they have confidence.

In March 2003, when the surveys were launched after the regrading scandal that contributed to the resignation of then education secretary, Estelle Morris, only 54 per cent had confidence.

There appears to be a split, however, between private and state schools, with confidence in the independent sector now running at only 61 per cent.

In further education, it was 76 per cent.

And overall, nearly three quarters of those polled said they had concerns about aspects of A-levels, with incorrect grading, mentioned by one in six, the most frequently voiced worry. The findings were uncovered in an Ipsos Mori survey of 2,932 teachers, students, parents and members of the public for the QCA last November.

Confidence in GCSEs has fallen sharply since the last poll. Some 66 per cent of the 506 teachers of 14 to 19-year-olds polled had confidence in GCSEs, down from 77 per cent. Nearly one in five said they did not have confidence, up from the 11 per cent in 2005.

Nearly three quarters expressed concerns about aspects of GCSEs. Easily the most commonly-voiced worry, spontaneously mentioned by 22 per cent of respondents, concerned coursework.

The Government is due to respond to these concerns by replacing GCSE coursework in many subjects with supervised in-class tests from 2009.

Two-thirds of teachers said they knew little or nothing about the Government's new specialised diplomas, despite their billing as the world's most important education reforms, the poll found.

Among GCSE and A-level students, awareness is even lower, with only 18 per cent saying they had heard much about the new work-related courses.

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