18 August 2016
Commenting on today’s A-Level results in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers' union, said:
“The National Union of Teachers congratulates all those students whose commitment to their studies has produced today’s A Level results. As well as recognizing their success, however, it is important to note the continuing problems of an examination system which is in several ways not fit for purpose.
‘First among the problems is the penalty that some schools have paid for the haste with which exam reform has been undertaken. This has been a very stressful time for 6th form teachers with new AS levels being introduced in year 12, at the same time as old syllabuses continue for year 13 students. Although a qualification in its own right, the AS level will no longer serve as a mid-way point to a full A-level or count towards the final grade. This will reduce opportunities for young people, has been widely criticised across the education sector and is the reason for a significant fall in the number of AS entries.
‘While results nationally may have remained in line with those in the previous year, the result of awarding bodies being required to adopt a ‘comparative outcomes’ approach will mean some schools and colleges may see considerable variation. This reflects teachers’ level of discomfort about the speed in which the new specification has been introduced.
‘Secondly, we are once again seeing a continuation of the gradual trend towards the more traditional academic subjects required by the Russell universities. This will be reinforced by the new EBacc requirements at GCSE. It means that more young people are choosing to study subjects considered to be of ‘higher value’ rather than those in which they may be more interested. Problems with teacher recruitment are probably a significant reason for the fall in modern foreign languages. In a modern world this should be of concern to all.
‘There are also broader issues on which we need to reflect. The way that A-levels continue to dominate the sixth form curriculum reflects the fact that university, despite the fees and the recent abolition of maintenance grants for poorer students, continues to be seen as the only option by many young people. This is the result of a lack of real opportunities for apprenticeships and also reflects the fact that vocational qualifications continue to have lower status even with employers.
‘Finally young people from less well-off backgrounds will continue to be put off taking up university education through an inability to shoulder the rising cost and the hike in tuition fees. Unless this is addressed through the re-introduction of maintenance grants the Government will in effect be putting a cap on social mobility.”
18 August 2016
NUT Cymru, Wales’ largest union for qualified teachers, has sent its congratulations to the thousands of youngsters across the country, together with everyone involved in their achievements, as they celebrate their A Level results.
NUT Cymru Secretary, David Evans, said:
“There are some major positives to take from today’s results, as well as some areas of focus as we continue to improve the education system in Wales. Overall the key message from today is to congratulate the students, teachers and parents who have worked together to secure these results. It is particularly pleasing that the overall pass rate remains very high.
“We will have to examine the reason for the marginal fall the very top grades, although it should be recognised that last year’s result was the high water mark for these grades since 2010. Different cohorts of pupils can provide small variations in performance, that shouldn’t necessarily always lead to sweeping conclusions.
“We must always remember that teachers are facing ever tightening school budgets and have been delivering these high quality grades against the backdrop of major reforms in recent years. That we continue to post excellent results within that context is a credit to the teaching profession and our pupils.”
23 August 2016
Commenting on the resignation of David Hoare, the chair of Ofsted who made unacceptable comments about the Isle of Wight, Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers' union, said:
“David Hoare’s comments were insulting and ill-judged. It is correct that Mr Hoare has resigned from the post. Schools and teachers in areas facing challenges need constructive support and fair evaluation not denigration. It’s all too easy to throw insults around rather than exploring realistic answers.
‘Teachers learn quickly that you must never insult or ridicule children. Yet we have developed a culture among politicians and Chief Inspectors which assumes that ranking schools and geographical areas, using demeaning labels and instilling fear and anger amongst professionals is somehow productive. This is a moment to stop and reject such an approach.
‘Ofsted is losing credibility as an inspectorate independent of Government. It is a major cause of excessive and debilitating workload for teachers and remains one of the main reasons teachers leave the profession. It needs to be replaced by a new model of school accountability which is demonstrably independent, developed in conjunction with the teaching profession.”
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