Spelling out the real problems 1

February 17, 2006

I was disappointed at the hyperbole of your headline "Tutors in despair at illiterate freshers" (February 10) and the subsequent coverage.

By selecting seven short and emotive quotations from the 250 admissions tutors quizzed in the survey, your coverage seems at best disingenuous and at worst playing into the hands of the Cassandras of woe who emerge blinking into the daylight every August to pontificate on the alleged dumbing down of A levels.

Three factors the report failed to consider are: the inadequate training given to academics to support them in developing effective teaching skills; the negative impact of research assessment exercise demands on the number of academics engaged with school subject associations and examination boards; and the complete lack of synergy between GCSEs and A levels, leading to Year 12 being taken up as a bridging year.

What is needed to enhance the preparedness of undergraduates is not implied blame of students and their teachers but for higher education staff to work more closely with schools and colleagues.

I wonder how many of those admissions tutors were such brilliant learners at 19?

John Butcher
Director of learning and teaching
University College Falmouth

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