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Exam failure

DAVID Jamieson (Solihull News, Sept 11) claims that it is untrue that exams are getting easier, and seems to be claiming that comprehensive education is more successful than selective education.

DAVID Jamieson (Solihull News, Sept 11) claims that it is untrue that exams are getting easier, and seems to be claiming that comprehensive education is more successful than selective education. Both claims are false. Common sense suggests that if the pass rate increases every year then, other things being equal, the standard must be falling.

And so it proves. In 1996, a comparison of the A level pure maths exam papers for that year with GCE O level maths papers for 1961 (taken at the same stage as GCSE is now) shows that the A level questions were wide ranging but simple and superficial, whilst the O level covered a much narrower syllabus but involved depth totally lacking in the A level. More recent studies have reached similar conclusions.

The failure of the comprehensive system is illustrated by the fact that 95 per cent of pupils attend comprehensive schools but gain fewer Oxbridge places than the five per cent who are selectively educated.

The important point is that all children should be educated to their maximum capacity - something the comprehensive system, manifestly fails to achieve.

JR Nurcombe, Marcliff Crescent, Shirley.

 

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