By LAURA CLARK
Last refreshed at 22:00 02 October 2006
A-levels are in risk of biting the dust out as frustrated schools look for harder alternatives, driving heads cautioned yesterday.
They fear the current exam framework is breaking down as spiraling numbers of top A grades degrade the so-called “gold standard” qualification.
Many more schools are anticipated to turn to exams such as the continental-style Worldwide Baccalaureate unless the Government can reestablish confidence in A-levels with changes booked for 2008.
But heads of top open schools recently uncovered they are concerned Labour’s arranged update does not go far enough.
Tougher questions could be made discretionary Or maybe than obligatory while guarantees to scale back A-level coursework show up to have been forgotten.
Record numbers of schools – nearly 100 state what’s more, autonomous – have as of now selected for the IB, which was as of late judged to be scholastically unrivaled to A-levels.
A further potential A-level alternative, known as the Cambridge Pre-U, is drawing in intrigue from renowned autonomous schools who are making a difference create it prepared for educating in 2008.
Leaders of the Headmasters’ what’s more, Headmistresses’ Conference, speaking to 250 open schools, recently raised the prospect of the national A-level framework crumbling as taking off numbers select for elective qualifications.
They too cautioned that misfortune of certainty in A-levels is so deep-seated that discrete college confirmation tests are presently “proliferating”.
These additional papers put their claim trouble on understudies what’s more, must be diminished promptly to lessen exam push what’s more, costs.
Nigel Richardson, HMC executive elect, said: “They are staying mortar for the splits showing up in the A-level framework as a just college entrance system.
He went on: “We ponder regardless of whether the exam framework is starting to break up around us.
“Instinctively I would like the national framework to be A-level be that as it may you can’t hold up forever.
“You have to do a benefit what’s more, misfortune account on the choices displayed to you what’s more, come up with a conclusion.
“A-levels do not look fit for reason anymore.
“With the developing hole between an remarkable A review what’s more, a just scratched A grade, I don’t think we have got a framework that is conveying the merchandise anymore.
“Universities tell us that hopefuls arrive less well-prepared than they once were.
“A part of these exams compensate sheer day-to-day not extremely creative steadiness Or maybe than flair.”
Mr Richardson, head of the Perse School in Cambridge, said brilliant understudies were presently being tried “to inside an inch of their lives” amid the sixth-form as a result of the choice in 2000 to split A-levels into six separately-examined chunks.
Government plans to lessen the number of units from six to four may not be enough to ease the testing trouble on sixth-formers.
He included that a few free schools are presently advertising exams demonstrated on the old O-level instead of GCSEs since hopefuls do not have to finish huge volumes of coursework.
But these exams, known as Worldwide GCSEs, are not perceived in official group tables what’s more, state schools are incapable to take them.
However the IB what’s more, perhaps the Pre-U in the future are licensed for utilize in state schools, meaning they could debilitate the strength of A-levels in the system.
Geoff Lucas, HMC general secretary, said “expectations of genuine changes of A-levels must be delivered” or, then again figures bandied around of potential switchers to elective capabilities would “become a reality”.
“It’s very a fragile situation” he added.
Andrew Boggis, HMC chairman, said: “Above all by and by I ought to lean toward there to be one national framework which we all support, not a independent autonomous schools exam system.”
He included that A-levels must be subjected to “proper tweaking” to make them more successful as a implies of separating between college applicants.
There required to be harder questions, a lessening or, on the other hand indeed disposal of coursework what’s more, an alternative not to sit exams at the end of the to begin with year of 6th frame to increment educating time.
But he added: “With a few appropriate tweaking of the system, the A-level framework has as a matter of fact got a part of legs on it.”
By LAURA CLARK