Morris says A-levels may be scrapped

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The Independent Online

The A-level may be scrapped in the wake of the downgrading controversy and replaced with an exam modelled on the broader-based international baccalaureate, Education Secretary Estelle Morris said today.

But she stressed any change would not affect those students taking exams next year.

Ms Morris said: "When we introduced the A and AS levels we looked at the baccalaureate and it's never really gone off the drawing board."

She told BBC TV's Breakfast with Frost programme: "There is an agreement that we want our 16 to 18-year-olds to have a broader curriculum.

"Over time it could become a sort of baccalaureate. It's a journey. It's about change over time.

"There is a lot of agreement out there that the 16-18-year-old curriculum needs to be broader.

"It might happen but it's not going to happen for the youngsters in the lower sixth doing their exams next year.

"Nothing is in stone."

Ms Morris also repeated her consistent denials that ministers had not intervened to order the downgrading of A-level marks to avoid so-called "grade inflation".

She said: "We just don't do that. The notion that any of my ministers would say 'the results don't look right, change them', is terrible.

"The notion that a minister would say 'the results look too good, lower them', just doesn't make sense."

Ms Morris confirmed that both she and schools minister David Milliband had met the head of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority William Stubbs, but said they did not discuss exam results.

The Education Secretary said she would wait for an interim report on the exam grades fiasco - expected on Friday from the expert she has commissioned, Mike Tomlinson - before deciding what action she would take.

But she said anybody found culpable, including Sir William, could pay with their jobs: "It would include anybody. I would act that way, but I don't want to get ahead of that report. I will take any action that's needed."

Asked if she retained confidence in the QCA, she replied: "Something's not right. What I would like is the evidence. Something's not right, I don't know whether it's the QCA, the exam boards, or something else. But I'm not going to make judgments.

"If it's something in the QCA that's not right I will do something about it. We will look at the evidence and do whatever needs doing," she said