Top A-Level Grades Up, But Leader Warns Of 'Intolerable Strain' On Mental Health

Maurice Richmond
By Maurice Richmond,
updated on Aug 16, 2018

Top A-Level Grades Up, But Leader Warns Of 'Intolerable Strain' On Mental Health

Students across England, Wales and Northern Ireland have received their A-level results. Whilst the number of top grades awarded is at a six-year high, concerns have been raised over the strain placed on students and teachers

Figures show 26.2% of entries from students scooped either A* or A grades amid 11 new subjects being taught at A-level and sweeping reforms to the GCSE system.

In England, A-levels are returning to students being graded on final exams, moving away from coursework. A-levels have also been separated from AS-levels in England.

According to the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), the overall A* to E pass rate dropped slightly to 97.6%, compared to 97.9% passing 12 months ago.

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, believes the present system and success with top grades is coming at a price.

Mr Barton congratulated schools, colleges and teachers on their results, but pleaded for understanding on the mental health impact of the pressure to hit grade targets and recent changes in the education system.

He said: “Eleven new A-levels were sat for the first time this year, 13 last year and a further tranche will be sat next year, and there have also been major changes to vocational qualifications.

“All this is in addition to the biggest overhaul of GCSEs in their 30-year history. The sheer weight of these reforms has placed an intolerable additional strain on staff and students and we have no doubt that this has affected the mental health and wellbeing of a proportion of young people and teachers.

“The government must pay heed and ensure that any future reforms are introduced in a more manageable and considered manner.”

Exam regulator Ofqual had promised grade boundaries may be lowered in new subjects, if the exams proved tougher than expected.

UCAS has revealed that more than 410,000 students have accepted university places so far, this is down by 1% on last year.

Earlier in the year, students had expressed concerns over the difficulty and pressure of their A-level exams in May. YouTube star Jade Bowler, who had regularly shared her revision tips with her 200,000 followers, posted a video of herself in tears after running out of time whilst completing a 42-page exam paper.

Jade has also spoken candidly about the pressure she felt whilst sitting her exams.

Students expecting Btec results will have to wait for their results to be released on Wednesday, August 22. GCSE results are due to be published on Thursday, August 23.

If you or a loved one are worried about the impact of exam pressure, speaking with a counsellor may help. Visit Counselling Directory to find a qualified mental health professional in your area.

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