Don't abandon A-levels, says CBI

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Business leaders will urge the Government today not to replace A-levels and GCSEs with a new diploma, claiming such a move would destroy an educational standard which was "known, understood and respected" by employers.

The number of 16-year-olds leaving school without basic English and maths skills is a "disgrace" and tackling this problem is much more important than introducing a whole new qualifications system, employers consulted by the Confederation of British Industry said.

The comments came in the CBI's response to the government-backed review of qualifications for students aged 14 to 19 - led by Mike Tomlinson, the former head of Ofsted - which is considering introducing a diploma or European-style baccalaureate.

Digby Jones, the CBI director general, said a consultation with employers showed that firms do not believe that scrapping existing qualifications is the way to boost school leavers skills and employability.

"I support many of the working group's objectives but business does not believe revolution is the way to achieve them," Mr Jones is expected to tell educationalists and employers at a seminar in Birmingham this morning. "Scrapping existing exams would destroy an educational standard known, understood and respected by employers."

Mr Tomlinson's review is looking at strengthening vocational studies and establishing a framework of qualifications. He is due to publish an interim report on his proposals later this month.

Charles Clarke, the Secretary of State for Education criticised the CBI for its attack, saying the group's public criticism differed from what it had said to him in private about the proposals.