Letters extra: key skills

16th March 2001 at 00:00

You report that students are not taking the new key skills qualifications seriously. Perhaps that is because the government is not taking them seriously.

Its funding for the key skill of information technology allowed just 50 minutes a week from October to May to teach groups of at least 16 students.

No learning materials were provided. There was little sample examination material to help staff interpret the specifications and prepare their own materials. The examination dates were not known at the start of the courses. Even after the first batch of real examinations, there remain areas for which no illustrative materials exist.

In the pilot schools there was a very high failure rate at level three. It is not clear what has been done about this.

Before the new key skills IT, many students enjoyed doing CLAIT (computer literacy and IT) courses. The skills learnt were useful and assessment was simple. An updated CLAIT, with a change of emphasis towards the needs of students rather than business would have been far better received.

The old London A-level physics data analysis and comprehension papers provide a suitable model for the examination of the core key skills within AS or A-level.

Steve Bolter
Halstead
Essex

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