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Polish A-level under threat

Polish has become the latest minority language to be jettisoned by the examinations giant the Edexcel Foundation.

The group has decided that the A-level examination will be sat by candidates for the last time in 1999 because of a shortage of qualified examiners.

However, the 150,000-strong Polish community in Britain claims that the board is refusing to meet the costs involved in setting, moderating and marking papers. It is offering to subsidise the examination and helping to provide or train examiners.

Polish has become the fourth key minority language in recent weeks to be threatened by Edexcel. Turkish, Hebrew and Arabic are also facing the axe and community leaders are involved in discussions with rival boards.

A spokeswoman for Edexcel said: "This is not a question of funding, although we do run courses like Polish at a loss. We have to ensure that the people we have marking and setting the papers are experienced and well-trained."

The Polish Educational Society, which currently runs almost 70 Saturday schools for 5,000 pupils, said it had already given assurances that there were trained examiners available.

In a letter to Edexcel, the society's president, Richard Gabrielczyk, pointed out that "Poland is an associate member of the European Union and is on the way to becoming a full member . . . it would be rash to withdraw Polish."

Mr Gabrielczyk said the number of candidates had doubled in the past five years and was expected to remain at about 150 for the foreseeable future.

He added that the PES was receiving increasing enquiries from British firms and businesses for Polish language tuition. He said: "It is a scandal that, at the time when the market was opening up between Britain and Poland, the board is considering dropping the A-level."

Two years ago the PES successfully staved off threats by the Northern Examinations and Assessment board to drop Polish GCSE by offering subsidies.

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