Teachers' union calls for delay in plan to ditch A-levels

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The Independent Online

Plans to scrap the "gold standard" A-level exam and replace it with a French-style baccalaureate must be put on hold for at least 10 years, the most moderate teachers' union agreed yesterday.

The Professional Association of Teachers (PAT) said young people's prospects would be damaged by the loss of a respected qualification. Barry Matthews, the union's national vice-chairman, told its annual conference in Harrogate that the A-level exam was respected by employers and the public around the world. But the new baccalaureate-style diploma, proposed last week by Mike Tomlinson, a former Ofsted chief inspector, would mean nothing to the public, Mr Matthews said.

The PAT is the first teachers' union to discuss the plans. Ministers have yet to endorse them but are watching closely how they are received.

Mr Tomlinson recommended the diploma after an investigation into last summer's A-level grading fiasco, in which nearly 2,000 students were awarded the wrong grades.

Yesterday, delegates voted overwhelmingly to resist any attempts to scrap A-levels. Mr Matthews said: "Rather than changing the system I would suggest that it would be better to identify the best of what is available ... Keep the good and dump the bad."

Peter Morris, a teacher at Bishop Gore comprehensive school in Sketty, West Glamorgan, seconded the motion, arguing that the education system had already endured enough change. "We as a profession are fed up with the pace of change. Changes in policy every few months does no good for pupils, no good for teachers and no good for the education service," he said.