Time has made reform pointless

12th March 2004 at 00:00
Ruth Silver argues (TES, February 27) that we have waited 10 years for Tomlinson and we should therefore grasp this best hope for A-level reform.

But it is precisely because we have waited so long that this curricular reform is now too late.

During the past decade a highly selective system has consolidated so that 14-plus students now follow either academic, vocational or basic skills pathways through to sixth form in school or college, technical Centres of Vocational Excellence or general FE colleges, then on to researching, teaching or training universities. To overlay this new tertiary tripartism with a Scottish Higher-style baccalaureate will only mask its reality.

Just as curricular reform should have accompanied the structural reform of selective secondary schooling but didn't until the introduction of GCSEs in 1986, so today it is too late for curricular reform now that schools, FE and HE select atevery level.

Patrick Ainley, Professor of education and training

University of Greenwich

41 Vaughan Gardens

Ilford, Essex

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