From education to employment

But ATL warn: Stop living in the past

Schools Minister Jim Knight has today praised students across the nation as figures can reveal that overall entries for A-level maths have increased by 7.5%.

The Department for Education and Skills has this morning released data which also shows that entries for AS-level further maths have increased by 24.5% this year and 58% over two years.

In a statement issued this morning, the Minister said: “Today’s results are a reflection of the hard work of students, schools and colleges. I want to congratulate young people on their achievements and thank teachers for their commitment”.

“We no longer have the quota system of twenty years ago which imposed a false cap on attainment and condemned 30% of pupils to failure each year no matter what their achievements. Today, hard work merits success and high quality teaching is enabling every young person to grasp the opportunities available to them. As more do so we should welcome that and take the same pride in the achievements of our young people as they do in every other country where similar rises have occurred in the past twenty years”.

According to results published by the Joint Council for Qualifications, science subjects remain popular. On the back of this week’s claim by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) that the UK’s science base is in danger of being “eroded”, chemistry, physics and maths still made up a greater proportion of A-level entries than communication studies, computing, expressive arts/drama, ICT, media studies and psychology put together.

The most popular A-level subjects were: English with 86,640 entries, mathematics (55,982), biology (54,890), psychology (52,621) and history (46,944). The most popular subjects at AS level were: English (99,951), psychology (78,731), biology (72,246), mathematics (70,805), art and design (58,073).

And the rise in the overall pass rate from A-E moves up 0.4 % to 96.6%, while the percentage of “A” grades has increased from 22.8% to 24.1%.

“Record numbers taking and achieving at A-level is good news. As a nation we should take pride in these achievements and encourage more young people to seek the success that is being celebrated by thousands of students and parents today”, continued the Minister.

And further praise was heaped on student achievements as Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) today condemned the “yearly battle over A-levels”.

“Young people are to be congratulated on achieving these excellent results, gained through their hard work, and supported by the skills of their teachers. Those who hark back to the past should recognise that things change. Just as driving a Ford Cortina is no longer an aspiration, we should not expect students in the 21st century to follow a 1950s curriculum and exam system”

She continued: “There needs to be a fundamental revision of the post 16 curriculum and an end to the divide between academic and vocational subjects. Employers want young people who can think laterally, are good at team work and have a strong knowledge of current affairs. We need to do more to prepare young people for a fast changing world ““ and we cannot do so if we constantly hark back to a golden past, and a gold standard, which never existed”.

Vijay Pattni.

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