Celebrating Curriculum 2000
17. We took evidence from people who had been
involved in teaching Curriculum 2000. Mr Neil Hopkins, Principal
of Peter Symonds College, Winchester, was supportive of the new
curriculum, although he believed "that AS and A2 was introduced
very quickly, too quickly frankly, and we worked very, very hard
to make it work. There were some problems with it but in proportion
I do not think the problems were that extreme."
He said that there were "still some confusions" which
were beginning to be clarified.
He reminded us of the many changes made to the examination system
in the last few years and said that schools did "not want
too many changes. We want to settle down and make some sense of
Mr Hopkins highlighted the "tremendous benefits" of
the new curriculum; "it has given accessibility via the AS
to people who would not have got an advanced level before".
18. Mr Tony Neal, Headmaster of De Ashton School,
Lincolnshire, agreed that "the system of AS and A2 is better
for students and better for everyone than the old system".
He believed more work was needed to clarify the standards of AS
and A2 levels. Dr McLone, Chief Executive of the OCR awarding
body, told us that Curriculum 2000 had been a "great success"
as a new curriculum because, "it had allowed students to
move into a broader number of subjects".
Mr Edward Gould, Master of Marlborough College, reminded us that
the criticism of Curriculum 2000 in most schools was "purely
related to assessment. [It was] not related to Curriculum 2000,
which we welcome."
He was concerned that universities continued to demand three A
levels for admission, showing no acceptance of the AS/A2 framework.
This practice discouraged the diversity of curriculum the AS and
A2 examinations were designed to encourage.
19. Ofsted's evidence to the Committee was drawn
from their wide experience of school inspections, and concluded
that students faced an ever more exacting schedule of assessment,
and that the character of Year 12 has changed dramatically. They
believed that the curriculum changes had produced beneficial effects
in concentrating teachers' and students' minds and giving a real
sense of purpose, and that they had broadly maintained the rigour
and depth expected for advanced study.