Storm in an academic teacup

As the records continue to tumble as far as the number of Grade A and A* (what’s that all about!) passes at A-Level, the competition for higher education places has reached unprecedented levels and some universities now openly require students to score a number of A grades at age 16 as a minimum entry requirement.

In many cases, pupils who fail to gain at least Cs in GCSE English and mathematics are automatically barred.

‘I hereby sentence the defendant to 3 years for robbery and 2 years for handling stolen goods, the sentences to run consecutively’.

‘Excuse me, M’lud. What does consecutively mean?’

‘One after the other’.

‘So how many years will my client spend behind bars?’

‘Err, umm. Seem to have misplaced my calculator. Clerk of the Court?’

‘Battery is dead, M’lud’.

Teachers argue that the move risks punishing ‘late bloomers’ and forces children to make key decisions about their future career at age 13 when GCSE options are chosen

There are also those who argue that that many schools are inflating examination results by pushing pupils onto substandard vocational courses. With so many pupils now obtaining (over the) top grades, the universities have little choice but to use other criteria as some sort of filtering device.

The situation is nothing new, universities have been using GCSE data for many years as a filtering mechanism, the only difference is that now they are actually admitting to it. So where is the problem? Something has to be done when there is no ‘fail’ as such and the system is heading towards a scenario where everyone will achieve an A**** grade, and probably regardless of whether they turn up for classes or not.

Encouraging young people is one thing, wrapping them in cotton wool until their twenties and insisting there are only winners is something else. There is a real world out there and there are disappointments in store.

What is the alternative?

Oxford University to trial selection of candidates based on best body piercing.

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