G levels

Dateline 2013. Newspaper headline:

Shock decline in A level pass rates under Tory government. Universities forced to lower entry requirements. Dramatic rise in unemployed school leavers.

That nice Mr Gove has been in the news again. Perhaps I should just mention that I have no particular political desire to keep referring to his Conservative education policy pronouncements and I’m sure there will be an equal number of Labour Balls-ups during the forthcoming election campaign.


This time Mr Gove wants to get back to A levels like what they used to be in the good old days – more rigorous knowledge recall, no modules, no AS levels, etc. Which actually I have no problem with, in that the small minority of highly academically-able, destined to become university professors, deserve a challenging, thoroughly academic examination. But what Mr Gove does not seem to have thought about is what will happen to all those students who will, as a result fail their A levels. Presumably, without the option of AS levels, many will instead leave school after GCSE, unless there is some dramatic turn around in fortune for the Diplomas. The popular press will have a field day. As always the real challenge continues to be the provision and successful political marketing of a highly valued, ‘gold-standard’ equivalent, non-academic alternative to A levels.

Meanwhile, if he really, really means it, Mr Gove’s statements about the need to review the target-setting, academic exam-result culture that now pervades schools are surely to be welcomed?