It has been a stressful and highly emotional week for many, if not all, the A-Level students in Wales, Northern Ireland and England. Results arrived last thursday amid delays and crashes on the UCAS website. Expected grades or unexpected grades; university places confirmed or entry into the ‘clearing process’ or an uncertain change of direction; national headlines about higher results than ever in some areas…or a disappointing ‘fall’ in others; even more headlines about high student loans, number of places available and whether the system is fair or not; and a particular issue for Wales – is the Welsh Baccalaureate really widely accepted by institutions as an equivalent to an ‘A’ grade in an A-Level. We certainly know of one university that does not recognise this qualification – despite what Leighton Andrews may say in television interviews. 

This week has certainly made me reflect on my own experience of A-Levels. Maybe they should be a distant memory as over 20 years have passed since I received the white envelope in the post. Yet I can remember it clearly. I can remember how I felt. I can remember the heightened emotional atmosphere in the Sixth Form Building. I can remember queuing with other students to talk to teachers. I can remember having to make hard decisions. 

The following links are to blogs by The first reflects on the relevance of grades and how this changes in a lifetime. The second takes a look at the issue of ‘assessment for learning’ and its implementation.

Was I really an ‘A’ grade psychology student? 

How do we change a cultural fascination with grades?

Finally…for all the stress felt by the A-Level students and their families this week, it has also been a crazy week for those people ‘manning’ the clearance help-lines. The last one spoken to said she had been working 13 days straight and may need to lie down in a darkened room as therapy! 



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Filed under Education, Formative Assessment, Learning, Potential, Secondary, Teaching

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