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A-grades get mixed response

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As A-Level grades reach new heights this summer the ongoing standards row gets underway; as schools minister Dave Miliband applauds pupils for a job well done the Institute of Directors (IoD) has called for a change in direction.

The overall pass rate for A-Levels this year was close to 100% with official figures coming in at 96% up from 95.4% in 2003. Traditional subjects proved most popular with English and Maths topping the charts with the highest number of entries at A-Level. Pupils also excelled at AS-Level with an increase of 0.2 percentage points to 86.9%

News of the grades increase has been met, however, with a mixed response.

Miliband congratulated students and said: “These results are built on the hard work of students, schools and colleges. I congratulate the students and thank our teachers for their commitment.

“My message to them is simple. Don’t let anyone tell you that standards have dropped because more of you have done well, this is simply a myth. Your hard work has merited success.”

Reaction from the IoD was less jubilant. While fully backing the value of A-Levels and rejecting calls for a multi-tiered diploma replacement, the IoD have called on the Government to restructure the grading system for A-Levels.

James Walsh, policy adviser at the IoD said: “Employers and universities are finding it increasingly difficult to select the very best candidates from A-level students. With an ever-growing number of ‘A’ grade passes being awarded the brightest students are not shining through.”

While employers might be left confused by the army of A-grade candidates, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) welcomed the news seeing it as an answer to plug the skills gap.

Speaking to HRZone, Tom Hadley of the REC said:
“We welcome any increase in qualifications and skills amongst young people. Our recent surveys suggest significant shortages of skills within the workforce, which we hope this will help to stem. As an industry we will help to find jobs for many receiving their qualifications, this week, and next, both in temporary and permanent positions, and we look forward to introducing them to the world of work.”

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Annie Hayes

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