Don't let the tick-boxers destroy art

13th July 2001 at 01:00
This year, the things I believe to be of value in art and design education have been highjacked by whoever is responsible for the new assessment systems in GCSE, AS-levels, AVCE, and art and design foundation at Edexcel, and I suspect the same is about to be done to BTEC Nationals, "It's a pass - but is it really art?" (TES, June 29).

It appears that creative thinking is valid only if it is written. It doesn't matter how well thoughts are communicated visually, unless it is tracked in words, it cannot be credited. This obsession by Edexcel results in injustice, with talented students getting mediocre marks, and staff and students wasting time attempting to repeat in words what is much more eloquently expressed visually - yet not given the same value.

Experienced art staff can "read" and evaluate visual thinking and references - why can't Edexcel?

And I haven't even touched on the backward-looking external assessment of AVCE, or the crazy foundation assessment of a final project only, completed after most students have already secured university places on the basis of their coursework.

Along with my staff, I have trouble defending art and design in the face of bureaucrats who want all exams to be the same. We are in danger of losing the values which make the British creative industries outstanding (and a huge earner for the country), but are clearly not appreciated by the tick-box mentality of those at the top.

Hilary Franks Head of art, design and media Northumberland College 15 Dilston Terrace South Gosforth Newcastle upon Tyne

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