The Cambridge Exam board is refining Pre-Us, its alternative
qualification for pupils aiming for top universities. This website
is devoted to offer an independent review of the pros and cons of this radical
upswing to the post age 16 examinations system
Although the decision and
launch dates have been penciled in Pre-Us are still in their beta stage. All
schools and colleges are welcome to express their views and concerns. more
From 2008 the Pre-U exam will involve studying three subjects over two a two
year period, with final exams and an extended essay.
Dissimilar to AS or A-levels, would
not be modular and split into two parts, nor require everyone to do certain subjects
like the International Baccalaureate.
The announcement came as an academic yelled ministers were "in denial" about
A-levels having got easier.
The government insisted standards were rising "year on year".
But Dr Robert Coe, an education specialist from Durham University who has
analyzed trends, said A-levels were no longer "fit for purpose" in
challenging or distinguishing between the brightest pupils.
"I don't think it is a scandal that they are easier. What I think is
a scandal is that they have become easier but that official sources are in denial
The University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) said it had developed
the Pre-U - first announced last October - in response to demand from teachers
wanting to prepare students for higher education more effectively.
It is being developed with independent schools and Russell Group universities
and a specialist school representative.
Universities had also expressed concern about students' capacity for the more
independent style of learning they required, CIE said.
The intention is to have syllabuses available in September next year for first
teaching a year later.
CIE's chief executive, Ann Puntis, said those involved in the talks about
the new qualification so far had been "very excited".
"We have been very impressed with the amount of support that the new
qualification has been receiving," she said.
Ms Puntis said Pre-U students would be expected to take three subjects and
They could "mix and match" with A-levels if they chose - the Pre-U
would not feature art and design, for example.
"Universities are telling us that they will really value a student who
has done the whole qualification," Ms Puntis said.
"But in this first phase we recognise schools will want to continue with
some syllabuses that lie outside the 19 we are making available."
She said CIE was in talks with the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority
about getting the Pre-U accredited for use in state schools.
Gifted and talented
- Some schools are deliberately ignoring calls to make sure the brightest children
fulfil their potential, according to Deborah Eyre, director of the National Academy
for Gifted and Talented Youth.
Writing in the Times Educational Supplement, she said they had not understood
how important it was to nurture gifted children.
"A minority of schools, however, have deliberately chosen not to prioritize
this agenda, saying it is divisive," Prof Eyre said.
They mistakenly believed the current system was equitable.
"The winners in the current school system are the middle-class and the
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