A school has warned that an "overbearing and misguided" focus on exams is letting down prospective university students.

The King Alfred School, in North End Road, Golders Green, has called for policymakers to act in response to new research, which shows that the school exam system is not preparing students well for higher education.

The research, entitled A Review of Assessment Methods in Higher Education, was commissioned by The King Alfred School Society and Rethinking Assessment, a coalition of school leaders from across the state and independent sectors.

It showed that universities are increasingly turning to methods such as group work, creative projects and industry-related assignments, which are not commonplace at school level.

Al McConville, deputy head at The King Alfred School and co-founder of Rethinking Assessment, said: "Put simply, the school assessment experience is failing to adequately prepare students for higher education."

He emphasised a need for a full reform of the assessment experience for students, calling for the end of the "out-of-date, overbearing and misguided mono-focus on exams".

He added: "Whoever forms the next government should see this as an area in which they can make meaningful and immediate changes in the interest of children and young people all over the country."

Ham & High: Al McConville said exams are 'failing' to prepare students for universityAl McConville said exams are 'failing' to prepare students for university (Image: The King Alfred School)

Rosie Clayton, head of Rethinking Assessment, said: "Higher education institutions are responding to our ever-changing world by ensuring their assessment methods relate to the tasks young people will go on to face in their working lives.

"In schools we should be doing the same, making assessment more relevant and inclusive for all young people to better prepare them both for success in higher education, and in the world of work beyond."

The research analysed of 240 undergraduate degrees across 12 of the most popular subjects, revealing that none relied solely on exams.

Non-traditional forms of assessments such as group work, creative projects and industry-related assignments were very common across most subjects and universities.

Robert Lobatto, head of The King Alfred School, said: "This review lays bare the worrying divide between the ways in which schools and universities assess their students.

"Schools need to be freed from the limitations of the current exam system so they can introduce more effective methods of assessment."