ASCL comment on A-level results 2019

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, comments on today’s A-level results
Commenting on today’s A-level results, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

“Congratulations to students on their results in A-levels, AS levels and other important vocational qualifications. Congratulations also to the schools and colleges which have so expertly taught and supported them during a period of great change to qualifications and while under severe funding pressures because of government cuts to post-16 education.

“This year is the third phase of the introduction of new A-level exams, including the most popular A-level subject of maths. Students have faced the daunting prospect of going first in new and challenging qualifications which are designed to be more rigorous.

“The grading system addresses these issues by adjusting grade boundaries to take into account changes in specifications and the degree of difficulty in different papers so that students are not disadvantaged from one year to the next. This is a good thing and grade boundaries need to be understood in this context.

“But we are concerned about the impact on young people. The government’s obsession with making exams more rigorous is in danger of destroying their love of learning. Entries to both A-level English and A-level maths have fallen this year following the introduction of tougher GCSEs in these subjects and this should give us all pause for thought.

“We support the idea that qualifications should be challenging, but we do not think they should be grinding. We are not calling for wholesale change of qualifications in the immediate future. There has been far too much recent upheaval.

“But it would be timely and sensible for the government, Ofqual and the exam boards to conduct a review to find out more about the impact on students of the new qualifications and what adjustments might be made to turn down the pressure cooker.”