Privatised board acts against our interests

21st July 2006 at 01:00
Edexcel, Britain's largest exam board, owned by media company Pearson, has decided not to seek re-accreditation for its music and music technology A-levels from the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. This means it will no longer offer these A-levels after 2009 and the last AS cohort of students will begin in September 2007.

This decision has been reached without consulting senior examiners and, as far as I am aware, no school or college has been asked their opinion.

It appears to have given little thought to the implications of this decision, especially for music technology. Currently, Edexcel is the only board offering music technology AS and A2. So this decision, in effect, kills off A-level music technology at a time when student numbers are growing rapidly, centres have made significant investment in resources, and higher education acceptance of the subject is good and improving.

Edexcel had said that the complexity of the assessment model and the constraints of the QCA's new subject criteria make it impossible to produce a sustainable specification that will be attractive to schools and colleges.

Since its inception as an A-level, music technology has operated under the framework of A-level music, which hasn't always been ideal. However, the QCA recently created a separate subject criteria for music technology giving it independence, which would have made it possible to develop a new creative qualification which schools and colleges would find attractive.

Edexcel also has, by far, the largest number of candidates for A-level music because many centres consider that its specification is most suited to preparing students for degrees, and offers a good balance of knowledge and skills with sufficient flexibility to support specialism.

The board naively hopes that centres will switch from these A-levels to Btec music and music technology. This shows a total lack of understanding of two very different qualifications. Most centres offering AS and A2 do not offer Btecs and it would require a major sea change for them todo so.

It is vitally important that future generations of students can study A-level music technology. We need to stop one company, whose primary interest is profit not education, dictating the content and format of music education in this country.

Robert Steadman

5 Henry Avenue

Matlock

Derbyshire

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