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.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a TES/ TESS subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


Get Tes online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to Tes online and the Tes app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off Tes Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the Tes online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order today