Ditch key stages to broaden choices

12th March 2004 at 00:00
The Tomlinson report on 14-19 reform must be welcomed as the starting point for a sustained period of deliberation followed by detailed feasibility studies if the faults of previous education reforms are to be avoided. As a minor contribution to this debate I will put forward three points for consideration.

It is almost an axiom that the more complicated a school's curriculum the more costly it is to provide. Choice and variety are bound to lead to smaller class sizes (good in itself) leading to a significant draw on school budgets. Increased funding will be necessary to ensure success.

Courses which require links with other bodies, be they other schools, further education colleges or employers, are bound to introduce constraints into curriculum delivery which will hamper that delivery throughout the school. The impact on the simple mechanics of everyday school life will need careful consideration.

Is it too late to consider a different model? First, a four-year replacement for key stages 34 with a broad curriculum delivered according to the wishes and needs of individual schools. Accountability would be provided by an end-of-stage assessment cutting out one level of current testing. Schools could be smaller than required at present.

Second, a three-year replacement for KS5 providing one, two or three-year courses to cater for the specialisms that arise as pupils begin to make life choices (is it not here that specialist status should take effect)? These courses could be within the same institution or not.

David Griffiths

Monitor Educational Services

1 Fulshaw Avenue

Wilmslow, Cheshire

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