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Selsdon Man

Many students are opting to take the international bacalauriat rather than A Levels that have been devalued. The market is beginning to reject the current exam system.

We need to privatise examinations and give all students real choice through private competing examinations.

James Hellyer

I agree, Selsdon. Like most state managed enterprises, Education has experienced its outcomes being distorted by political priorities and targets. Performance is measured against exam results, so pupils are trained for exams and Exam Boards compete for schools by being easier than one another (when I did my A Levels, some teachers were open that we used certain Exam Boards because more people got top grades with them).


Isn't having competing exam boards a bad thing? With competing boards we will have the ridiculous situation (as now) of boards touting for business with schools by offering easier and easier pass rates thus enabling schools to race up the league tables.
Far better to have one board so all children sit the same exam and are therefore on an even playing field when competing for University places.Hopefully this would be independant of the DoE so that the exam board is not beholden to politicians but to the children themselves.
We must remember that the devaluation of A Levels began under Mrs Thatchers government, not its finest hour !

James Hellyer

Actually Malcolm, I don't think that would happen. Universities, for example, would be free to say that they don't think qualification X is of as much value as qualification Y. That would provide a powerful disincentive for people to study for qualification X and may make schools pick more carefully.


Hang on James,didn't you say that exactly what I described happened to you in your previous post?
Also what would happen if you were a bright child at a school that chose to take easier exams and your 3 A grade A levels were deemed insufficient to get into a leading university.It would be very unfair wouldn't it?

James Hellyer

Malcolm, I think you're missing my point. At the moment standards plummet downwards and grades move every upwards. This is because the end user of the education system is the league table. That's where success is defined.

If you had competing exam systems, the end user wouldn't be a league table it sould be employers or universities. Schools would have to stop trying to get up league tabels and instead deliver what the universities wanted.

Under those circumstances, a school would have to pick the exams that suited these other users. After all, no parent would send their child to a school that doggedly offered qualifications that were known to be duff.

Clive Richards

Chris Woodhead went to public school; as did virtually all of his fellow Tory MP's. What on earth gives a public school Toff, who has never experienced life in that of a state school, the right to dictate how they are run? Would he want it to be like 'the good old days' under Thatcher: a 14% pass-rate!? This open, blatant, display of capitalist philosophy, which wants to privatize the state, should be stopped.

James Hellyer

Chris Woodhead is not now and has never been an MP (Conservative or otherwise). As former Chief Inspector of Schools, I think he's very well placed to speak about the state schools system.

As for the 14% pass rate... you made that up.


Yes,Clives was a ludicrous post.The Alevel pass rate was between 60-74% in Mrs Thatchers day

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