ATL and NASUWT say government interference does nothing but undermine students


Teaching unions have today warned of the dangers of politicising A-levels, saying ministerial interference does nothing but undermine the efforts of students.

ATL general secretary Dr Mary Bousted said: “The UK has one of the fairest and most respected exam systems in the world.  That said, it is not perfect and we would like changes made so that it better reflects the skills and knowledge students have gained.

“We need a rigorous, robust and fully independent exam system which is open to scrutiny and totally free from political interference.  A-levels and GCSEs should not be subject to the whims of who ever happens to be the Education Secretary.”

NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said: “This year’s results are being released against a backdrop of increasing attacks on our examinations system, with ministers and commentators seeking to whip up a false crisis about ‘gold standard’ qualifications, grade inflation and dumbing down.

“Technical processes designed to ensure comparability of standards year-on- year have been trumped up as ‘a crackdown on easy A-levels’ when they are merely a legacy of a change in the exam specifications introduced in 2010.

“Such claims not only minimise the efforts of young people, they undermine their confidence and self-worth.”

Calling on the “usual serial gripers” to refrain from undermining students’ achievements, Chris Keates added: “These results are the culmination of an immense amount of hard work by students and schools and for once it would be good if they could enjoy their success without the usual serial gripers seeking to undermine their achievements.

“The Coalition Government’s recent pronouncements on GCSEs and A-levels yet again demonstrate that its desire is not to raise standards, but to introduce an increasingly elitist system which strips away young people’s entitlement to a qualifications system which enables them to study a broad and balanced curriculum, opens the door to a wide range of career choices and options for further study and prepares them for life in the 21st century.

“Not content with the dismantling of the 14-19 education strategy, the scrapping of the Education Maintenance Allowance and its damaging economic austerity policy which has led to record levels of youth unemployment, the Coalition Government adds to the burden on young people by diminishing their examination achievements.

“The disdain that the Coalition Government appears to demonstrate for our young people is nothing short of scandalous.”

Mary Bousted added: “We hope all students are fairly rewarded for their hard work and their A-level grades reflect their achievements over the past two years.  It would be grossly unfair if this year’s students have been penalised in an attempt to make the exams appear tougher.

“Unlike in the Olympics, young people should not be divided into winners and losers in education.  We want all youngsters to reach their potential and gain the knowledge, skills and attitudes they need to continue studying, get good jobs and lead successful lives.”



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