LETTER: Education means skills for life

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your report "A-level exams will be made harder to pass" (6 March) will not make encouraging reading, either for future sixth-formers or for those interested in the country's prosperity.

Examinations ought to be rigorous, But to rank subjects in degrees of difficulty is unhelpful, and only widens the traditional academic-vocational divide. Other important questions concerning A-levels need to be discussed. The two key issues are failure and drop-out rates.

High-quality guidance well before post-16 choice must point out the credible alternatives, including the GNVQ route, which many more admissions tutors and employers are welcoming.

In addition, skills must complement academic success. The acquiring of skills must begin well before 16, as should the realisation by pupils of all ages that they have responsibility for their own learning. The lifelong learning process has to begin in schools. Successful companies regard such an approach as essential in future employees.

Roger Opie

Head of Educational Services

The Industrial Society