A-Levels - press release
18 August 2011
Commenting on today’s results, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said;
"Today’s results serve as a testament to the commitment of young people and the skills of teachers. It is time for the annual disparaging attack on such achievements to end.
"The NUT welcomes the increased take up and the overall high results achieved in the sciences and Mathematics, but continues to have grave concerns about the declining entry for Modern Foreign Languages. I urge the Government to come up with a coherent policy for ensuring that all young people acquire at least one Modern Foreign Language. The dismantling of MFL as an entitlement in secondary education was a disastrous decision.
"An argument that is often made is that modular exams and re-sits lead to ‘easier’ A-Levels. Modular A-Levels have increased the opportunity for all young people to achieve their full potential at A-Level. The difference between today’s modular A-Levels and the linear A-Levels the Government wants to see is that hard work is more likely to pay off in the current system. With the modular system and the opportunity to resit, harder working students have more of a chance of success, and there is less chance of candidates receiving an undeservedly low grade because they have failed to perform in a single exam on a particular day.
"With a tighter control on places, a brutal 80% cut to the teaching budget for this coming academic year and a sharp rise in tuition fees from September 2012, the Government is throttling diversity in higher education. David Willetts’ latest brainwave, to award higher UCAS points for what he calls ‘classic’ A-Levels, is an insult to the hard work of many thousands of students studying the full range of subjects.
"The Government places itself in serious danger of alienating an entire generation of young people. The continual squeeze on university places comes at a time when yet more of our 16-24 year olds – another 38,000 in fact – are not studying or working. That is now more than one in five of our young people and will have devastating consequences for this generation. Stripping away careers and support services for young people whose next step is uncertain entrenches the disadvantage.
"The spate of errors in this year’s examinations was inexcusable and it is vital that any appeals arising are dealt with as a matter of urgency.
"A test of the Government’s reforms will be in two years’ time, when we see the impact of their slashing the Education Maintenance Allowance. Our serious concern is that cutting financial support will deter talented young people from staying on past the age of 16, to do their A-levels and deprive them of the achievements we should be celebrating today."