Flexible exam system needed;Letter

13th August 1999 at 01:00
YOUR argument for abolishing the GCSE ("Farewell to GCSE," TES, July 30) will be shared by many who see the growth of post-16 examinations making even greater demands on pupils, teachers and resources. No other industrialised nation has full-scale national exam systems at 16 and 18. We shall soon have most 17-year-olds under examination as well (AS level).

We need a more flexible system so that those leaving school can obtain a certificate recording their attainments in subjects studied to that level. Those remaining in full-time education could take key stage 4 tests to provide a summative record of their achievement, particularly in subjects they will not be studying post-16. Some pupils will have completed this work in Year 9 and will have begun work on AS-levels. In this way they can broaden their advanced level studies.

The main examining resources should be concentrated on A-level, AS and vocational qualifications. We currently use far too much scarce time and resources on examinations and, with the growth of modular courses, the situation will become worse.

It is not only the working class and ethnic-minority children who suffer. Many of the most able are held back and are frustrated by the mundane aspects of some GCSE syllabuses. We need a flexible system which enables pupils to move on when they are ready.

V S Anthony Headmaster and Headmistresses Conference 130 Regent Road Leicester

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