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Shake up our A-levels to compete abroad

POST-16 courses in England and Wales lack depth, breadth and coherence compared with those in other leading countries - and the new A-levels are making matters worse, a report from leading think-tank Politeia will reveal.

The report will say that current courses often do not cover essential material, tend to favour a "worm's eye" view at the expense of full mastery of the subject, and that assessment is "chaotic".

Only a thorough overhaul of the system will bring England and Wales up to the standards of France, Germany, Switzerland and the United States.

Professor David Burghes of Exeter University said maths was "a real disaster zone". A-level entries were falling rapidly, there were some 240 different A-level modules and some A-level papers were much harder than others.

Robert Tombs of St John's College, Cambridge, decried the "Hitlerisation" of A-level history. And even the study of Hitler was often not set in the context of German history. At a "good girls' school" in London he found sixth-formers studying Hitler who had never heard of the Weimar Republic.

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