Teaching Union official’s concern over exam reform

UNION REP: Karl Flint of the National Union of Teachers. BELOW: UK education secretary Michael Gove.

UNION REP: Karl Flint of the National Union of Teachers. BELOW: UK education secretary Michael Gove.


A TEACHING union official has raised his concern about proposed changes to the A-level system.

Karl Flint, branch secretary of the National Union of Teachers, has spoken out after UK education secretary Michael Gove outlined plans to bring back traditional two-year A-levels with end-of-course exams, from September 2015.

Under a major overhaul, AS-levels would be separated from A-levels to become a separate qualification.

The Department of Education and Children is waiting to see how the proposals develop, and how other authorities respond.

Mr Flint said: ‘The proposals are yet another attempt from an unsympathetic, out of touch, British minister from a privileged background who appears to have virtually no grasp of the exceptional progress that has been made across the curriculum in recent years with regard to getting the best out of students given their widely different abilities and expertise.’

He said: ‘Decades ago we had an education system geared towards elitism in order to provide a university education for those seemingly best befitted to top jobs in the Foreign Office, international services, banking, insurance and financial sections. What worries me is this appears to be part of the direction this present [UK] government sees fit to take. Not all students, and some may argue the majority, perform best under exam conditions where they have to undertake a plethora of lengthy tests in widely different subjects over a very short period of time.’

He said top pupils would always excel, but there was a danger the proposals meant others wouldn’t reach their full potential.

A DEC spokesman said: ‘The proposed changes are coming under intense scrutiny from politicians and educationalists in England, and as this is likely to continue for several months, the DEC will wait to see whether this leads to any amendment before making any decision as to how to respond to any changes. The DEC is also watching to see how authorities in Wales and Northern Ireland respond to what is happening in England because, although the island needs to offer its young people the opportunity to take appropriate qualifications at the age of 16 and 18 this does not necessarily have to be through the English system.’

The DEC will then work with secondary schools to make decisions on what should happen ‘once the options are clear’.

Mr Gove has announced changes to GCSEs, including introducing the English Baccalaureate Certificate. It would also see students take final exams.

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