Tomlinson warns of 'two-tier' A-levels

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The Independent Online

Sir Mike Tomlinson, the former head of Ofsted who conducted an inquiry into secondary education for the Government, warned that ministers' plans to make the exams harder with optional extra questions to challenge the brightest could penalise students who did not attend the right schools.

Other plans for students to have the option to do an extended project alongside their A-levels were doomed to failure, he added.

Sir Mike said that moves to add tougher questions to A-levels "may well be" impossible in practice.

If ministers press ahead with their plans for the harder questions to be optional, some schools will decide that they lack the resources to prepare students for the extra questions, disadvantaging their brightest students in the battle for top university places. "Those equity issues bother me," Sir Mike told a conference organised by the National Union of Teachers in central London yesterday.

He said that current A-level questions were so easy that they stifled genuine scholarship.