Letter; Published ;The Times;6 October 2010
A good GCSE or equivalent in maths and sciences is more than enough to see most people through their professional lives
Sir, Anthony Seldon is largely correct in his analysis of what has gone wrong with the exam system (“A levels are just instruction, not education”, Opinion, Sept 29). But as to his remedy — introducing the International Baccalaureate — I beg to differ. It cannot be right to oblige pupils to study maths and sciences post-16. This would alienate many pupils and even persuade some to opt out of school altogether.
We already have one of the highest drop-out rates at 16 in Europe. A good GCSE or equivalent in maths and sciences is more than enough to see most people through their professional lives. The IB is also acknowledged to be more demanding, requiring self-discipline and more teaching time, meaning that it is more expensive to deliver. On cost grounds, alone, is it likely that the IB will be seen as a viable option for state schools?
The IB has its place in the qualifications spectrum. The key, though, is to have a range of robust qualifications that cater for an individual pupil’s needs.
Postscript Note; Seldon, an eloquent supporter of the IB-both the Middle Years Programme and the Post 16 Diploma- having introduced them at Wellington College, importantly, still offers pupils the choice of GCSE and the AS/A2 level.
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