LETTER: Blinkered A-level outlook

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The Independent Online
SARAH HAGGER'S views (Letters, 2 April), like the A-levels she defends, seem a little narrow. Do the majority of 16-year-olds really know what they want to specialise in?

By taking the European Baccalaurat, for which one studies about 10 subjects, I was able to make a life-changing decision at the age of 18. Moreover, I was then able to apply to study on almost any degree course in the country.

Ah, but the shallowness? We used A-level textbooks for maths and physics, and in English and French we studied more texts than most A-level students. The many options meant that rarely did anyone have to study a subject they found "horrific". At the very least the philosophy course, which is compulsory for all students, would allow Ms Hagger to be more stoic in her attitude.

As well as favouring the narrowest students, the current A-level system does create illiteracy - a chemistry student who does not know Locke, or Hume, is just as blind as an English student who cannot understand Newton's influence on the 18th century, or a politics student who does not have a grasp of Einstein's theory of energy and matter.

Elliot Vaughn

Clare College, Cambridge