Sort out the varying value of exams

6th June 2003 at 01:00
THE exam period is now almost over and I am sure in the next few weeks we will see again questions being asked about the standards of the exams our pupils are being set.

As a governor I am really concerned, as I have now been given obvious evidence that some of these exams may well be significantly over-valued.

I am particularly concerned by a general national vocational qualifications exam in information and communications technology which our headteacher has now confirmed is only timetabled as a single GCSE unit, yet for some reason, this particular GNVQ is valued at 4 A* to Cs.

Clearly there is a huge difference between the workload for four GCSEs and a single GCSE, so why is this particular course so highly valued?

I would like to see our school drop this course, but with the pressure of having to improve key stage 4 points scores, this is not going to happen, especially as other schools are adopting similar policies.

This is simply an artificial way of improving KS4 data for the Department for Education and Skills and does not give the pupils an accreditation commensurate with their work.

To make matters worse, I have been on a selection panel for a deputy headship where one of the candidates was an examiner for one of the main boards.

His comments about how the standard for the exams in his particular subject varied significantly from board to board must raise uncertainties about the whole of the current examination process.

Surely the idea that a GCSE from one board is easier or more difficult than from another board brings the whole system into disrepute. Is it not time we had a much simpler single- board KS4 set-up?

Hopefully this will open a debate on this subject and perhaps the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority will look at why certain exams seem to be so grossly over-valued.

Dr TG Southern

17 Park Close Sonning Common Oxfordshire

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