Thursday, June 05, 2008

Top British university ditches meaningless government High School diplomas and sets its own entrance exam

One of Britain's leading universities is to introduce an entrance exam for all students applying to study there from 2010 because it believes that A levels no longer provide it with a viable way to select the best students. Sir Richard Sykes, Rector of Imperial College, London, suggested that grade inflation at A level meant that so many students now got straight As that it had become almost "worthless" as a way of discriminating between the talented and the well drilled. Last year one in four A-level marks was a grade A and 10 per cent of A-level students achieved at least three As.

"We can't rely on A levels any more. Everybody who applies has got three or four As. They [A levels] are not very useful. The International Baccalaureate is useful but again this is just a benchmark," Sir Richard said. He added: "We are doing this not because we don't believe in A levels, but we can't use the A level any more as a discriminator factor." The move will make Imperial, which specialises in science and engineering and ranks third in the UK after Oxford and Cambridge in The Times Good University Guide, the first university to introduce a university-wide entrance exam since Oxford scrapped its own version in 1995.

Some universities, including Imperial, use entrance tests to select students for medical schools and both Oxford and Cambridge use specific subject-based entrance tests for certain degree courses. But there is no other institution in the UK offering a university-wide test.

Sir Richard said that the test would be piloted this summer for use in selecting students for entry in 2010 to Imperial, which has 12,000 full-time students. Apart from candidates for medical degrees, who must sit an entrance test called the BMAT, all Imperial applicants will sit the same exam regardless of which subject they intend to study.

The tests would seek to examine students for their innate ability and problem solving skills rather than subject knowledge. "We are going to have entrance exams that will test ability. We are looking for students who really will benefit from an IC education. The examination will look for IQ, intelligence, creativity and innovation and will not be too dependent on rote learning," Sir Richard said. But he added that students would not be able simply to stop doing A_levels, as the university would still require evidence that they had studied their chosen subjects in depth. Sir Richard said that Imperial had been in talks with other universities about the entrance test and suggested that eventually it may be introduced nationally.

He also told the Independent Schools' Council annual conference in London that many students in state schools were short-changed by the state education system, which educated 93 per cent of pupils. He suggested that the Government should offer scholarships to enable the brightest pupils to attend fee-paying schools. "We have got to do something radical if we are to save the children in our schools who are just not getting the education they deserve. We have in this country one of the best secondary educations in the world, but only a few percentage of people benefit from it," he said.

Imperial's new exam is bound to increase pressure for the introduction into Britain of American-style scholastic aptitude tests (SATs) as the key qualification for university entrance.


Government money failing to get British children to play sport

Can this stupid socialist government do ANYTHING useful? Many schools do not even OFFER the target amount of sport!

Special measures to get children to do two hours of sport each week are failing, Government figures indicate. One in three pupils over the age of 14 does not do the recommended amount of exercise in school each week according to figures released by the Liberal Democrats.

The Government and the National Lottery have dedicated 1.6 billion pounds to combat childhood obesity by boosting PE lessons since 2003 but over half of secondary schools still do not provide time for children to exercise for two hours a week. Gordon Brown recently pledged a further 100 million to get children to exercise for up to five hours during the school week.

Up to 900,000 pupils are missing out on the correct amount of sport causing fears about the future health of the nation the Liberal Democrats say. In 2002 Tony Blair's government recommended that all children should do at least two hours of exercise each week at school.

Don Foster, Liberal Democrat spokesman for Culture, Media and Sport, said: "Billions of pounds of taxpayers money have been pumped into school facilities, so parents are entitled to expect that their children are given a decent opportunity to use them. "With the 2012 Olympics on their way we should be encouraging the next generation of athletes. But these figures suggest the Government is set to squander the sporting legacy it could offer."

The new figures, released in response to a Parliamentary Question posed by the Liberal Democrats suggest that 33 per cent of all school children aged 14-16 do not do two hours of sport a week. Sixty five per cent of secondary schools and 32 per cent of primary schools fail to offer the required amount of sport each week.


No comments: