22nd November 1996 at 00:00
The London session of the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority consultation process for the new 16-19 assessment was a depressing experience.

We were presented with the draft subject cores - supposedly to discuss modifications. It rapidly became apparent that there was no chance of any serious discussion as on every page there were large sections that were, and I quote, "given". We had three hours to deal with a document containing a volume of quite controversial change. Much of the conversation did no more than touch the surface.

The group leader made frequent reference to the desires and opinions of "very important people", and two instances in particular highlight the degree to which we, as practising professionals, are distanced from the developmental process.

At one point it was made clear that the word "stimulus" would not be well received. This caused some astonishment as it is a widely used term in exam syllabuses. We were told that "an important person" thought that it was "inappropriate" - that is, had rude connotations.

Later, we were told that the notion of "register" (as applied to language) could not figure in our text as those who would receive our text did not understand what it was. Proof, if it were needed, that prejudice and blind ignorance now drives the process of curriculum change.

J WALDER Chaucer Technical College, Canterbury

* Letters should be kept as brief as possible. They should be sent to The Editor, The TES, Admiral House, 66-68 East Smithfield, London E1 9XY Fax: 0171 782 3200e-mail:

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