Thursday, August 16, 2007


A Level results were released today and like the 25 years before grades have risen and the UK is getting more A-E passes than ever. The girls again did better than the boys except in Languages and Further Maths.

I remember when I got my results it was on my 18th Birthday! I felt my A Levels were reasonable, whilst ICT was easy as peas, Maths seemed impossible and Politics and English were so-so, but still challenging.

Five years on I do think A Levels have gotten easier. The maths syllabus is now half of what I studied and an A-grade GCSE Maths is still not adequate to go on to A Levels Maths with, and A Level Maths, still, does not prepare you for degree level maths (unless you study further maths, which many do not as that means another maths A-Level on top).

The stakes need to be higher. University is not for everyone. Entries to university is harder than ever with so many high pass rates. Whilst students achieve the grades they are still not guaranteed a place forcing them to take gap-years. GCSEs also need to be more challenging and there needs to be a better alternative to A Levels.

Currently 14-year-olds who suffer from exams can opt to do diplomas in subjects like Business and go to college to do them and skip their GCSEs. However, at the end of their diploma it is not guaranteed they will be suitable employees as the job market does not recognise their qualifications (yet).

Next year a new grade A* will be introduced into A Levels to ease the load on universities so they can have their pick from the exceptionally bright students. Also, instead of the standard six modules required for A Levels it will be reduced to four, so students acquire a more in-depth knowledge of their subjects. A criticism was raised students do not know 'enough' of what they are taught.

In any case, it is disheartening for any A Level student to hear that A Levels are getting easier, it only undermines their efforts. Kids are not any less brighter, in fact they are brighter, but our education system is far too rigid and it needs to branch out. What do we do with a nation of 'academics'?

Back to polytechnics I say...