From education to employment

Unified Support for A-Level Results

Senior figures of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), National Union of Students (NUS), National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) and Association of Colleges (AoC) have all come out this week to praise the hard work of both teachers and students in achieving the latest set of A-Level results.

The Deputy General Secretary of the TUC, Frances O” Grady, condemned the now annual wave of backbiting, scaremongering and sensationalistic criticism, which seeks to undermine the academic success of the very people our education system is supposed to serve. Offering congratulations, Frances challenged those “sniping from the sidelines” to enter an informed debate, sayin: “It would be more constructive if the critics got involved in helping to shape reform of the A-Level system.”

Greater Access is Crucial

The reforms that the TUC speak of could well amount to calls for a Government rethink of the rejected Tomlinson Report; a view fully supported by the President of the NUS, Kat Fletcher.

Fletcher, who pointed out that in any other country, people would be celebrating such achievements of their young and old, stated that it is not the quality of the A-Level that should be questioned; instead, the level of access to Further or Higher education. Under the current system only 51% of pupils are passing the 5 or more GCSEs required to move on to A-Level / post 16 education. On behalf of the NUS, Fletcher hopes that the Government reconsiders the adoption of an overarching diploma, as recommended in the Tomlinson Proposals. As President of the NUS, Kat Fletcher has repeatedly demonstrated her commitment to developing a strong education system.

A-Levels are Anything but Easy

In two separate interviews with The Guardian newspaper, Maggie Scott, Director for Learning and Quality of the AoC, and Chris Keates, General Secretary of NASUWT, endorsed the quality of A-Level examinations pointing to high standards of teaching and a new broader curriculum as reasons for increased annual levels of performance.

Ms. Scott equated the rising number of passes to a similar pattern of success for people taking their driving test, but noted that no one accuses that particular test of getting easier. The parallel was intended to emphasise that in most areas of life, standards naturally improve.

“The continuing unwillingness of some to accept that the year-on-year increase in numbers of those obtaining A-Levels and good grades is a result of rising standards contributes to disaffection amongst youngsters and demoralises teachers,” warned Ms Keates.

Phillip Byrne

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