US-style aptitude tests gain support

2nd April 2004 at 01:00
The majority of secondary teachers support the use of American-style scholastic aptitude tests (Sats) to spot students with the potential to succeed at university, a survey has revealed.

A MORI poll for education charity the Sutton Trust showed that more than half (55 per cent) of secondary teachers in England and Wales believed Sats would be a useful tool for university admission tutors alongside A-levels.

They could help elite universities to spot bright candidates from state schools with poor exam results, supporters of the tests believe.

Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the trust, is a member of the Government's taskforce on university admissions, which will produce its interim recommendations on how universities should select applicants early next month.

"A trial of the American Sat in British schools showed that as an additional measure to A-levels, it can identify talent from schools with low examination performance," he said.

The poll showed that 65 per cent of teachers thought students should apply to university after they received their A-level grades. That would encourage the candidates who did better than expected to apply to elite universities.

But neither schools nor universities are prepared, for now, to change their term times to accommodate what is known as "post-qualification application".

The survey questioned teachers about the creation of an English baccalaureate: 41 per cent opposed the idea while 36 per cent said they would back it.

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