Heads say it is too late to save gold standard

19th August 2005 at 01:00
Headteachers from the private and state sectors will meet university admissions tutors next month to discuss alternatives to A-levels, amid complaints that the so-called "gold standard" is in terminal decline.

Anthony Seldon, the headmaster of Brighton College and biographer of Tony Blair, has called the conference to discuss alternatives to the exam.

It is expected to discuss fears that A-levels no longer prepare young people adequately for university and fail to properly discriminate between candidates of different ability.

Dr Seldon, who supports a baccalaureate, said the meeting would be a first step that will seek common ground between universities and schools and explore ideas to challenge the status quo. He said he hoped to keep the meeting low-key and refused to reveal its location or those attending.

Geoff Lucas, general secretary of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses'

conference which represents private schools, this week condemned the Government for failing to act. In an article in the Daily Telegraph he says that employers and universities are introducing their own tests because grade inflation has left them with little faith in A-levels.

Mr Lucas says that more schools, disillusioned by the Government's rejection of Sir Mike's proposals, would turn their back on the exams. And he dismisses the Government's proposals as "too little and far too late" to save A-levels.

* A study published this week by the Independent Schools Council found no evidence that university tutors discriminate against private school pupils, despite repeated complaints from the sector.

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