Thursday, 7 February 2008

The market should decide on A levels

Let me make a prediction. Diplomas will not have replaced A-levels by 2013. So, why shouldn't Gordon Brown say so, instead of exciting the Telegraph into predictions of doom? The problem for the PM is that it is not for him to guarantee that students will continue to study A-levels if a genuine market exists - and if that market includes the International Baccalaureate as well as the more vocationally-oriented Diplomas. However, he could and should express himself differently by making clear that the choice will be with students, but that given the differences between A levels and the IB or Diplomas, he would expect A-levels to remain a major part of the offer at that stage. I know of no teacher who seriously expects Diplomas to replace A-levels, and it would be far better for Diplomas if they were marketed for what they are, rather than according to a vague and unlikely theory of what may become of them.

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