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Gordon Gives An E To A-Levels

The Alliance Education Spokesperson, Dr Liz Gordon is asking the Minister of Education to warn schools that purchasing A-Level curricula is money down the drain.

"A-Level examinations have been heavily criticised in the UK for their narrowness and inflexibility. Model answers to questions are freely available to students on the internet."

"I simply cannot see how these examinations will be relevant to New Zealand schools. How on earth is a British based curriculum ever going to cover the Treaty of Waitangi or any other vital aspects of New Zealand history and culture?"

"There is no advantage to New Zealand in importing these exams and significant disadvantage. Parents will be under huge pressure to 'pay-up' in order that their children can sit these additional exams. Teachers will be forced to offer a dual curriculum, with performance implications for both the NCEA and A-levels.

"Schools should be aware that the use of the name 'Cambridge' is merely an attractive brand name. It does not herald any great status as the examinations are not overseen by Cambridge University. Cambridge International Examinations is a spin-off from the now defunct British local examinations structure, a company set up to sell examinations that are no longer profitable in existing markets." said Liz Gordon, who also chairs the Education and Science Select Committee.

She said schools have denied that they are spending money on "designer labels".

"So I ask them whether they would take on a senior school curriculum sold by Bangkok or Nairobi or New Delhi, if they were up to standard. And of course they wouldn't."

"It is all about status and not at all about substance."

Dr Gordon wants Mr Mallard to remind schools that the NCEA has been praised internationally, while the A-levels have been panned. She wants him to urge schools to think very carefully before buying into an expensive system with no obvious benefits for New Zealand.

"In my view, we need to reject such backward looking colonialism and ensure that both the curriculum and the methods of assessment used in our schools are relevant to New Zealand and the educational needs of the 21st century" said Liz Gordon.

Liz Gordon has been looking closely into this issue.

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