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Employers Alarmed At Extent Of School Exam Changes

While the Employers & Manufacturers Association (Northern) supports internal assessment at secondary schools, the changes proposed, especially at years 11 and 13 (5th and 7th form years) go too far, the association says.

"Employers are deeply concerned at the extent of the changes to internal assessment in secondary schools," said Alasdair Thompson, EMA's chief executive.

"Internal assessment plays an important role for students at all levels, particularly for those oriented towards practical vocations.

"But those pursuing academic qualifications require the testing benchmarks provided by competitive and rigorous examinations. The new regime excludes the opportunity to take these.

"It proposes such broad categories of achievement that employers will also find them meaningless. An individual's scores are not going to be recorded.

"Employers are concerned at:
* the dumbing down effect of the proposed scoring system on those wanting the challenge to excel.
* being asked to carry the risk of the new system - they will be employing those scoring in the extremely broad categories without any idea of an individual's precise place within a category.
* the ability of schools to ensure uniform scoring standards throughout the country.
* the decreased responsibility that schools are required to take for the skills level of the students they graduate.

"A particular concern is being expressed over how the technology curriculum will be moderated between all schools," Mr Thompson said.

Further comment: Alasdair Thompson tel 09 367 0911

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