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A-levels 'will not be scrapped'

London, Aug 10: Suggestions that A-levels are to be scrapped in favour of qualifications combining vocational and academic elements have been denied.

The government issued the denial after former chief inspector of schools Mike Tomlinson claimed there was a new "willingness" to revisit the issue.

He proposed in 2004 that a new baccalaureate style qualification should replace the A-level.

But the government opted to bring in vocational diplomas alongside A-levels.

The first pupils will begin the new diplomas next year in five subject areas, including construction and engineering.

But because they are primarily vocational courses, there has been criticism that they will be seen as sink courses for non-academic pupils and take second place to A-levels.

Sir Mike told BBC Radio 4's World at One he believed Gordon Brown's government was willing to look at the issue again.

"The prime minister is very concerned about skill levels and very keen to find ways of enhancing them.

"I'm sure that if he thought there were other changes which could be made to enhance that part of the policy, then I'm sure he would give it serious consideration."

Academic divide
He said there was always due to be a review in 2008 and it was a question of whether Mr Brown would look at these parts of his proposals more sympathetically.

His comments were backed up by former education secretary Estelle Morris who said she hoped Mr Brown would look at a more integrated qualification.

However, Schools Minister Kevin Brennan said although the government was determined to end the divide between academic and vocational education, there were "no plans to scrap A-levels".

"We recently announced revisions to the A-level system to ensure that the highest levels of achievement are recognised.

"It is a testament to our education reforms and the hard work of pupils and teachers that more young people than ever now have the opportunity to do A-levels and to do well in them."

BBC News
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