Once again, the ironing will suffer

6th July 2001 at 01:00
I have never felt the need to write to The TES before, since my only connections with education are that I went to school a long time ago, my wife is a modern languages teacher and my children's education is in progress.

However, I feel I must make a plea on behalf of the partners of all language teachers because my wife has just shown me next year's A-level (A2) German syllabus. There is a list of nine topics in unit four and these incredibly diverse and complex topics include "distribution of wealth to the state and to the individual". The sub-headings (all 67 of them) need to be seen to be believed.

Science and technology topics include high standards in science-research institutions, communications technology, defence-inspired technological advances, energy self-sufficiency, space exploration, genetically-modified food, consequences of technological advances in employment and cloning.

Whoever has compiled this syllabus can have little appreciation of the substantial extra workload which the list of topics will impose on my wife and the severe knock-on effect for cleaning, ironing, and cooking duties in our house.

The only consolation is that once she has completed all her preparation, there will be a proportionate reduction in marking because nearly all the pupils doing AS-level German have taken one look at the syllabus and decided to opt for something easier at A2. The number continuing to A-level at my wife's school is down to an all-time low. I gather that the French syllabus is equally overwhelming.

I've advised my wife to retrain to become a solicitor. With her language skills and by the time she has completed her research into "European Union - pipe dream or realistic proposition?" and "Enlargement of European Union towards the East - effects on current members" I can feel an opening in Brussels coming on which will make her recent merit pay award appear like small change.

RJ Whitehouse 65 Whitmore Road Newcastle, Staffordshire

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