Pointless stress of new AS-levels

20th April 2001 at 01:00
As the father of a 17-year-old (and not a teacher), I was nodding with agreement as I read Libby Purves's article "Right intentions, wrong results" (TES, March 30). It should be compulsory reading for every MP and everyone in government connected with education.

My son is a keen sportsman and musician who also has to cope with AS-levels in sciences, maths and music.

Libby is right; the new A-level system is just like the old system with bits bolted on, giving this overburdened year group yet another hurdle to jump over.

If this was giving them a broader education coupled with greater academic skills I would be supportive. But it is not. My son complains that subjects are crammed in foreach modular exam and then forgotten.

His timetable would stress out the most resilient executive. The school's timetable runs for six days but the school week is five days. Therefore a lesson taught on, say, Tuesday one week will be on Wednesday the next. Confusingly, some pupils also have peripatetic tuition on a five-day timetable.

That the constant new initiatives have not led to a broadening of education can be seen in the following incident. My son, unable to answer a question on Greek mythology, had the perfect answer: "Ask me about the Tudors then. I've done them three times but never the Greeks."

Graham Cheesman 88 Willesley Gardens Ashby-de-la Zouch Leicestershire

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