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Restore mode three examinations

Colin Padgett was quite right to complain about middle managers with no time (TES, April 7). A major reason for their plight is the bureaucratic centralism that bedevils education, and it is worth recalling that, in the days of strong examinations, there was no need for the national curriculum paper-mill, cat's-paw outfits like the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority or expensive fatuities like key stage 3. Heads of department were free to map out their roads to Rome, knowing that the destination was worthwhile and that there was ample opportunity to explore the byways, too.

It would be good for every aspect of education if that situation were to be restored, though the present government, authoritarian to the marrow, is unlikely to agree. There is, however, one measure that it should be prevailed upon to countenance: the restoration of mode three examinations subject to strict criteria of quality. That way, many of education's "do-this, do-that" encyclicals would simply become irrelevant and alienated teachers could begin to identify with their subject again.

DR COLIN BUTLER

Senior English master

Borden Grammar School

Avenue of Remembrance

Sittingbourne

Kent

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