Past TimesEd

25th April 2003 at 01:00
75 years ago. April 21, 1928

AS it is certain that the abolition of school examinations is still far off, the practical problem is to reduce the evil to a minimum, to abolish anomalies, to free the schools from the depressing idea that they are in chains to an externally imposed syllabus, and to stimulate all those activities of youth which, in Sir Michael Sadler's phrase, "are consonant with the creative faculty of many English minds".

The problem at bottom is capable of brief statement: the examination that public opinion demands must not operate in such a way as to bury the pupil under a load of inert ideas.

50 years ago. April 24, 1953

Many of the wartime aspirations, some of them inscribed in the 1944 Act, still exist only in that ghostly world between promise and performance.

They jostle on the bank of the Styx like souls that lack the fare for a passage to the other side - not that an obol would carry these ambitious education measures very far.

The three-year training college course is one of them. It is almost 10 years since the McNair Committee urged this eminently desirable reform.

Another seven must elapse before its introduction can be considered.

25 years ago. April 28, 1978

The first N and F exams (to replace A-levels) are still 10 years away, Mr Peter Dines, the Schools Council Joint Secretary in charge of exams, predicted this week. He said 1988 was the first possible date for a start to be made, but he believed the first syllabuses would reach schools in 1986. That would coincide with the reduced numbers in sixth forms and universities caused by the reduced birthrate.

It would also be 20 years from the start of considerations about how the sixth-form curriculum could be broadened.

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