Tuesday, September 26, 2006


I'm keeping an eye on the development of a new set of qualifications for school-leavers, designed specifically with a view to preparing them for university. The Cambridge Pre-U (awful name, that...) is being created by the Cambridge International Examinations and seems to be generating a lot of enthusiasm and interest, at least among some university teachers. (See a recent report here.)

I haven't seen a draft syllabus yet for any of the subjects I am particularly interested in (primarily Greek and Latin, but also I suppose 'Classical heritage') but the philosophy of the qualification sounds right, driven as it is by a concern to foster independent and self-directed learning. This is from the CIE site:

The values enshrined in Cambridge Pre-U are:
  • The development of well-informed, open and independent-minded individuals capable of applying their skills to meet the demands of the world as they will find it and over which they may have influence.

  • A curriculum which retains the integrity of subject specialisms and which can be efficiently, effectively and reliably assessed, graded and reported to meet the needs of universities.

  • A curriculum which is designed to recognise a wide range of individual talents, interests and abilities and which provides the depth and rigour required for a university degree course.

  • A curriculum which encourages the acquisition of specific skills and abilities, in particular the skills of problem solving, creativity, critical thinking, team working and effective communication.

  • The encouragement of 'deep understanding' in learning.

  • The development of a perspective which equips young people to understand a range of different cultures and ideas and to respond successfully to the opportunity for international mobility.
The Guardian report does cite some reasonable worries, voiced by Tessa Stone of the Sutton Trust. It is certainly essential that any new qualification should be accessible to all students and able to be taught effectively by a wide range of schools.

Let's all keep our fingers crossed and hope they get it right...

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