Call for one aim at 14-19

9th December 1994 at 00:00
A new over-arching qualification for 18-year-olds, the Advanced Certificate of Education, has been urged on the Government by a deputation of secondary heads.

The nine-member delegation, representing the Secondary Heads Association (SHA), the Girls' Schools Association (GSA) and the Headmasters' Conference (HMC), were making an unprecedented joint approach to the Government to put forward a common agenda for reforming 14-19 education.

They described the meeting last week with Education Secretary Gillian Shephard and other education ministers as "very positive".

They want a continuous and coherent system for 14 to 19 education, which would retain A-levels but encourage flexibility, credit accumulation and transfer, and a new over-arching qualification.

A recent joint statement from the three associations, plus the Association for Colleges, the Association of Principals of Sixth-Form Colleges, and the Society of Headmasters and Headmistresses in Independent Schools, called for a coherent education system for 16 to 19-year-olds. SHA, GSA and HMC, however, as secondary organisations are also concerned about 14 and 15-year-olds.

John Sutton, SHA's general secretary, who said the meeting was "excellent, " added: "We were there to persuade the Secretary of State that despite the five-year moratorium, it was necessary to move ahead on 14 to 19 in an evolutionary manner. I think we met a very positive response."

The heads argued that all students staying on at school until age 18 should aim for a common qualification. The route to ACE could be traditionally academic via A-levels, or a combination of the General National Vocational Qualifications and A-levels, they argued. And the AS level, which is supposed to be half an A-level, would be reformed to run over one year in Year 12. Students could then use it as a free-standing qualification or continue with it to a full A-level in Year 13.

The present system, involving GCSE, National Vocational Qualifications, A-levels AS-levels and GNVQ, had many attractive features, they said, but they needed to be drawn together, so that students could identify their own pathways through to 18.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today