Peter Hoskin

The Tories tone down their rhetoric on A-levels

The Tories tone down their rhetoric on A-levels
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The latest A-level results have been released and – surprise, surprise – success rates have risen. The proportion of papers marked at grade E or above increased to 97.6 percent from 97.5 percent last year. And 27 percent achieved an A or the new A* grade, with 8 percent at A* overall. So, naturally, and rightly, the usual arguments about "dumbing down" are out in force.

The Tories used to love getting stuck into this debate, accusing the New Labour government of eroding exam standards. But it's noteworthy that, now they're in power, their rhetoric on the matter has become considerably less provocative. Speaking this morning about standards, David Willetts said:

"I really do hate that debate … Young people work incredibly hard … I think we should stop being down on young people and we should celebrate what they achieve."

followed up

"There’s no question that whether you take an A-level today, or whether you took it 28 years ago, it all requires a lot of work … Any student you talk to who’s sat their A-levels this summer will tell you that over two years they’ve had to work incredibly hard to achieve the grades that they’ve achieved today … To achieve an A* or a B or an E in the A-level requires a huge amount of hard work."

review of A-levels