Headteachers' Leader Calls for Aptitude Tests

Article excerpt

It's time to consider whether American-style Scholastic Aptitude Tests should be used alongside A-levels when allocating university places to students, a headteachers' leader said yesterday.

John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, said heads in state and private schools wanted university admissions procedures to be more transparent and based on a "level playing field".

But Iain Duncan Smith, the leader of the Conservative Party, told the association's annual conference in Birmingham that applicants' backgrounds should not be taken into account during university applications. He said the best way to recruit more disadvantaged students to university was by boosting their A-level results by improving the schools they attended.

Dr Dunford told delegates that the row over claims that Bristol University discriminated against private school applicants meant it was time to change the system.

He called for the applications process to be revised so that students applied after receiving their A-level grades. He added: "This is much more than a battle between independent schools and Bristol University.

"State and independent school heads and college principals are united in wanting a more level playing field, and that must mean, at the very least, taking account of an applicant's background and the university admissions expertise of the school or college they attend. …