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Longer sixth-form week proposed

A radical proposal to redesign the post-16 curriculum will recommend that sixth-form students increase their studies from 15 to 20 or 24 hours a week.

The proposal, to be publicised by a team of lecturers and researchers at the University of London Institute of Education in June, will also recommend employing 20 per cent more post-16 teachers to cope with the increase in workload.

Ken Spours, one of the institute's team, said this week that the proposal was likely to be "contentious", not least because it would cost money.

He and another team member, Dr Michael Young, who is head of the institute's post-16 education centre, discussed these ideas at a seminar on Tuesday with representatives from the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority, the National Council for Vocational Qualifications, examination boards, colleges and teachers' unions.

They will recommend increasing students' curriculum time to a minimum of 20 hours instead of the usual 15 hours of A-level teaching a week - 16 to 18-year-olds on the Continent are taught for 30 hours.

It will recommend a three-year "radical but very demanding" programme taking the best of A-levels, General National Vocational Qualifications and the Business and Technician Education Council qualification.

The research team will build on other fledgling post-16 models and hold a second consultation seminar soon.

Mr Spours said after this week's seminar that some teachers were likely to object to the proposed increased workload and others would complain that the model would "over-teach" or "spoon-feed" students.

But he and his colleagues believe the extra hours and the new qualification would give students the breadth and flexibility they need for the 21st-century workplace.

* A national, flexible, framework for qualifications for 14 to 19-year-olds was outlined in a policy paper issued last week by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers.

The framework will subsume existing structures of GCSE and other mainstream exams which means that new forms of assessment will not be needed. It aims to recognise achievement across the range at certain levels with appropriate merit and rewards.

The proposals will be debated fully at the next ATL conference.

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