We don't want more change

3rd August 2001 at 01:00
I read Education Secretary Estelle Morris's apology "Things can only get better" (TES, July 13) with rising incredulity. She was an education minister in the previous government and, if poor strategic and operational thinking is to blame for the weaknesses of Curriculum 2000, then she was part of the problem. A combination of government arrogance and poor advice from the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority and the four major exam boards have left hundreds of teachers, students and parents to make the best of a situation that had held out so much promise.

The new Curriculum 2000 has received public backing. As the political backing was not there to move towards the more radical over-arching national diploma recommended by Lord Dearing, the alternative model of a fully modularised post-16 accredited system was seen to be a move in the right direction.

Teachers worked very hard towards the three modules for the A1 and three for A2. Unlike the key skills initiative, schoolteachers found planning time was rushed, new A-level textbooks were not available, exemplar mark schemes were rudimentary and the full implications of hundreds of new modular exams, alongside the already crowded examination schedule of key stage 3, GCSE and A-level gradually unfolded.

Ms Morris cannot wave a wand and expect teachers and students to immediately change schemes of work and detailed departmental planning built around the present modular framework, for a new one based on her own political response to the recent "national outcry".

In my college, one of the most disheartening aspects is the amount of money that schools and colleges hand over in exam fees. Schools do not have the extra money to meet the spiralling costs of module entries, re-entries and no doubt script re-marks, that will follow the publication of results in August.

Ministers should stand back - look at what is good in the system, discuss carefully the outcomes with all the major stake-holders and not rush in with another lot of new changes.

Bridie Sullivan

Assistant principal

Beacon community college Crowborough

East Sussex

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