Today's news

October 16, 2002

Morris at bay over A-level debacle
The Conservatives hit out yesterday at what they called the "worst crisis ever to affect the exam system" and spoke of the education secretary's "brazen lack of contrition". For Estelle Morris, the education secretary, it was the first time that she had an opportunity to address the Commons on the A-levels fiasco of August. As MPs returned from their summer break, she freely admitted the anxiety and uncertainty it had caused. Promising a robust system in the future, Ms Morris reiterated that neither students nor universities would suffer financially from any transfers that now take place.
(Daily Telegraph, Times, Financial Times, Guardian, Daily Mail)

Schools left with no idea what an A level is
Students and teachers no longer have any idea what an A level is, the man in charge of the examination "grade fixing" inquiry said yesterday. Mike Tomlinson challenged the government by giving a warning that the "gold standard" qualification was clouded in confusion. It was "amazing" that schools were in the third year of the changes brought in under Curriculum 2000, yet still did not know what examiners expected of their students.
(Times, Independent)

Exam chief unrepentant over regrades
Ron McLone, chief executive of the Oxford, Cambridge and RSA (OCR) board, yesterday insisted that the A-level fiasco had been "a storm in a teacup" and that he and his board had been vindicated by only a small number of students securing better results.
(Guardian)

Anger at exams just pique of public schools
The Rev John Witheridge, headmaster of Charterhouse independent school in Godalming, Surrey, broke ranks over the A-level grading fiasco yesterday, accusing his colleagues of vilifying the examination system out of pique at their poor results.
(Times)

Lung cancer link established
A direct molecular link between smoking and lung cancer has been found, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute says. A team in New York discovered a chemical in cigarettes that damages a gene called K-RAS, causing it to mutate.
(Times)

Britons want Elgin Marbles sent back
A survey of 2,009 adults by MORI has found that 56 per cent of people backed a plan to transfer the Elgin Marbles from the British Museum to a purpose-built exhibition centre at the Parthenon in Athens. Only 7 per cent said the marbles should remain in the British Museum.
(Times, Daily Telegraph)

Man and machine go down to the wire
Vladimir Kramnik, the world chess champion from Russia, was beaten in the sixth-game of his million-dollar contest with the computer Deep Fritz last night. They are tied on three points each with two games left, tomorrow and on Saturday.
(Times)

Saying non to c'est la vie philosophy
A new survey by the UK International Longevity Centre shows the French would rather have a short good life than a long painful one. The British and Americans would choose a long life, even if it meant spending their final years in pain and dependency.
(Guardian)

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