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TEACHING UNIONS REACT TO TOMLINSON INQUIRY FINDINGS

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TOMLINSON CHALLENGES GOVERNMENT TO CREATE AN EXAMINATION SYSTEM FIT FOR THE 21ST CENTURY SAYS NAHT...
TOMLINSON CHALLENGES GOVERNMENT TO CREATE AN EXAMINATION SYSTEM FIT FOR THE 21ST CENTURY SAYS NAHT

David Hart, general secretary NAHT comments on the Tomlinson Final Report into A Level standards* as follows:

'The Tomlinson Report will remove the 'nonsenses' seen this year over confusion on standards and unilateral changes to exam grade boundaries. It should go a long way to restore confidence in a system badly bruised by this summer's events. But the government needs to go further and accept a Report that challenges it to create an examination system fit for the 21st century.

'That is why the NAHT supports a cut in the bureaucratic overload, comprehensive high quality training for examiners as part of modernisation of the antiquated examining process and a post qualifications admission system.

'Above all the Report rightly 'throws down the gauntlet to the government' by recommending a reduction in the burden of examinations. External assessment at 16, 17 and 18 has, for far too long, led to this country's students becoming the most over examined in the industrialised world.

NAHT is not convinced that AS and A2 should be decoupled to create two free-standing qualifications. There are many issues linked to decoupling that must be considered, including the need to ensure that the motivation of students to embark on AS courses is not diminished. We cannot afford to see a 14-19 system that fails to remove the 'besetting sin' of over-specialisation at 16.

TOMLINSON FINDINGS DESERVE WIDESPREAD REPORT, SAYS ATL

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers has responded to the second part of Mike Tomlinson's inquiry into the problems of this year's A-level examinations*.

Among the recommendations made by the former chief inspector of Ofsted in his report published today, is the de-coupling of the AS and A2 level, to create two free-standing qualifications. Mr Tomlinson's report also called for a more transparent and professional exam system and recommended that pupils should have their A-level results before applying for university.

Commenting on Mr Tomlinson's findings, ATL's deputy general secretary, Gwen Evans said:

'Mike Tomlinson's report is extraordinarily helpful, particularly in its emphasis on the need for consolidation and for proper piloting of further changes. It is a pity that it took the summer fiasco to remind politicians of the dangers inherent in disregarding advice from well-qualified bodies such as QCA (Qualifications and Curriculum Authority).

'The report offers a well-judged series of solutions to the problems that emerged. It deserves widespread support.'

ATL has also spoken on the recent comments made by QCA's chief executive, Ken Boston about the problems of the marking process, highlighted during this summer's A-level fiasco. Gwen Evans said:

'Ken Boston's description of exam marking as a 'cottage industry' is something of an understatement; it's a 'cottage industry' on the point of collapse. In principle, ATL would support his commitment to teacher assessment for educational reasons. In practice ATL has to remain totally opposed to anything, which adds to the already excessive burdens which teachers face.'

TOMLINSON REPORT ON A LEVEL PROBLEMS - NUT REACTION

Commenting on the Tomlinson report published today*, Doug McAvoy, NUT general secretary, said:

'While many of Tomlinson's findings are eminently sensible, there remains a very big question mark about the purpose and operation of the assessment regime in this country. Tomlinson paints a picture of a system which is overstretched as a direct result of the government's view that if it moves, assess it.

'If real and lasting benefits are to be drawn from the Tomlinson report, there needs to be a fundamental reduction in the number of exams and tests faced by pupils. The remaining essential exams and tests must be fully resourced and supported by appropriate training, advice and guidance. This must be coupled with proper recognition and reward for those who act as markers.

'Tomlinson is right to recognise the crucial contribution of teachers as markers to the examination system. They must have appropriate training and time during the school term to fulfil this function.

'Never again must any government panic in response to those whose covert agenda is to subvert confidence in a common examination system and re-establish a privileged position for their own pupils.'

* See 'A'-LEVELS FINAL REPORT PUBLISHEDon LGCnet.

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