Kelly to preside over reform of exam system

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The new Education Secretary Ruth Kelly will have to preside over the biggest shake-up of the exams system for 50 years within weeks of taking office.

The new Education Secretary Ruth Kelly will have to preside over the biggest shake-up of the exams system for 50 years within weeks of taking office.

The Government is committed to publishing a White Paper in January detailing its plans for exam reform.

It will be a response to the inquiry into 14 to 19 education headed by the former chief schools inspector Mike Tomlinson that called for the existing GCSE and A-level system to be replaced by a new diploma.

There were fears among teachers' leaders yesterday that the departure of Charles Clarke and David Miliband - both supporters of the Tomlinson proposals - would lead to a watering down of the reforms.

They believe Mr Clarke's replacement by a secretary of state with no history of major involvement in education policy will strengthen No 10's hand in shaping the response.

Fears were somewhat allayed when Stephen Twigg, a junior education minister for three years, was promoted to Mr Miliband's job as minister for School Standards. Other policy areas include the creation of 200 academies - privately sponsored and run inner-city schools backed with government finance - by 2010.

In higher education, the new Office for Fair Access will rule on whether individual universities will be allowed to charge the maximum top-up fee of £3,000 from 2006. Ms Kelly will have to grapple with the increasing number of university department closures.

She will also oversee the massive increase in child care planned by the Government.

EDUCATION IN-TRAY

  • Decide on Tomlinson inquiry recommendation to replace GCSE/A-level system with diplomas.
  • Establish at least 200 Academies in deprived urban areas by 2010.
  • Widen participation in higher education and monitor introduction of top-up fees of £3,000.
  • Improve childcare: urge schools to stay open from 8am until 6pm.
  • Maintain "strategic" university courses such as science and languages.

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