§ Mr. Bowis
To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he has yet replied to the advice of the School Examinations and Assessment Council on the issues which it raised in July, in the context of A-level and AS examinations, on education and training of 16 to 19-year-olds generally and on the vocational relevance of academic study; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. MacGregor
I am writing today to SEAC, with a parallel letter to the National Curriculum Council, and placing copies of both letters in the Library of the House.
I am concerned to see that all young people aged 16 to 19, including those studying for advanced and advanced supplementary examinations, should be equipped with the general skills, knowledge and understanding needed for employment and adult life generally in the 21st century.
I have therefore asked the SEAC and the NCC, working together and with other interested parties including the National Council for Vocational Qualifications, the further education unit and the Training Agency, to define the common skills and knowledge which are needed by advanced-level and advanced supplementary examination syllabuses. I have also asked the SEAC, in its future work in this area, to take account of widely expressed concerns about the apparent gap in the structure of qualifications between GCSE and A-levels.
I believe that the work now set in hand will increase the breadth and relevance of study of advanced-level students, 180W and also ensure the development of links between A-AS qualifications and vocational qualifications, which will in the longer term improve opportunities for progression and credit transfer for all young people aged 16 to 19 in education and training.