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Updated: 16 min 44 sec ago

A-level results: foreign languages suffer further slump

Thu, 16/08/2018 - 22:18

Number of people studying German fell 16%, while French also experienced steep decline

A-levels in traditional foreign languages have suffered a further slump, with the number of people taking German falling so steeply that it has been overtaken by Mandarin.

About 3,000 students sat German A-levels, a drop of 16% on last year and a 45% fall since 2010. French, the most popular modern foreign language, also suffered a steep decline, as part of a shift by students away from humanities towards the stem subjects of science, maths and computing.

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A-level results are out, but what about those not going to university? | Fiona Millar

Thu, 16/08/2018 - 21:04
A significant number of young people are turned off by traditional higher education. They should have a decent alternative

This year’s A-level results day saw grades down slightly, universities awash with places, and signs that young people might be starting to vote with their feet, and not in the direction successive governments have predicted. What is going on? For the past 20 years, encouraging more young people into higher education has been a central aim of education policy. Until now there was no real reason to think this plan wasn’t working.

Around a third of all school-leavers go on to higher education at 18, and that figure rises to almost 50% by the age of 30. But a survey tracking aspirations for a university education among pre-GCSE pupils released on Thursday by a social mobility charity, the Sutton Trust, suggests that the wind might now be blowing in a different direction. The trust has been monitoring aspirations for the past 15 years and reports a falling proportion of young people who think university matters. The survey also shows there is still a marked difference in attitudes towards higher education between students from different social backgrounds.

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The Guardian view on higher education: more egalitarianism please | Editorial

Thu, 16/08/2018 - 20:45
The UK government’s review into post-18 education must recognise that it is clearly a good that would benefit society if more widely available

Has the engine of education concentrated ability of a certain kind under the latest changes? It would certainly seem so. Students in England receiving their A-level results on Thursday were the latest to do so under a revamp wrought by Michael Gove when he was education secretary. They are part of a move away from grades awarded on the basis of coursework to marks based on a final exam in such subjects as geography and drama. The result seems to be the persistence of trends in educational achievement – with girls continuing to outperform boys in most subjects and sciences attracting more entries. This will encourage the backers of this approach to laud it.

Adopting this outlook means considering the downsides. We must beware of sieving people according to education’s narrow band of values. After all, 1.5 million children took A-levels and 3.8 million people took vocational qualifications. To the government’s credit, it has belatedly realised that there needs to be a serious look at post-school technical and academic options. When Theresa May launched her wide-ranging review in February of post-18 education, it was expected to take a year. However, with the chaos in government engendered by Brexit, no one is sure where Mrs May’s review is going.

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I managed to become a doctor, despite my devastating A-level results

Thu, 16/08/2018 - 18:55

After missing the grades I needed for medical school, I found another way to realise my dream

It was August 2007; I stood in the classroom, surrounded by my school friends, clutching the large brown envelope that contained my A-level results. I wanted to become a doctor and had the next five years of my life all planned out. I opened the envelope to find three As and two Bs staring back at me. My heart sank.

Related: ‘I ran to the toilet and cried.’ A-level students whose results were a lesson in life

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All credit to Stormzy. But Oxbridge must do more for black students | Jason Osamede Okundaye

Thu, 16/08/2018 - 17:13
The star’s scholarships are welcome, but the top universities need to engage and support more BAME young people

Stormzy is the people’s champion. In the past two years, he has proven himself to be one of the most committed public figures to furthering the interests of young black British people. He has made surprise appearances at youth sports days, access conferences and even singing at a funeral for a fan. From sponsoring Oxford University alumna Fiona Asiedu to take up a place at graduate school at Harvard, to launching the publishing imprint #MerkyBooks in partnership with Penguin, Stormzy has kept us on our toes, eagerly anticipating his next big move.

So I was proud to participate in a photoshoot last Friday to announce his latest initiative: a scholarship fund to cover the tuition and maintenance fees of two black students a year to study at my alma mater, Cambridge. Against the background of A-level results day and celebrations for those achieving top grades and entering their first choice of university, the scholarship has been met with roars of praise, hashtags of #blackexcellence and black students eagerly asking how they can secure one.

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Tough A-level season for girls at Tauheedul Islam school

Thu, 16/08/2018 - 15:45

All exams this year coincided with Ramadan as students fasted and ‘pulled all-nighters’

It was a tough exam season for this year’s A-level cohort, who sweated in airless assembly halls during the hottest summer in decades. It was arguably even tougher for the students of Tauheedul Islam girls’ high school in Blackburn, who also had Ramadan to contend with.

This year’s month of fasting coincided with the exam period, prompting some girls to stay up late feasting after sundown and others to set their alarms for 2.30am for a very early breakfast. “All our exams were in Ramadan and it was so hot,” said Sara Ziglam, 19, who got As in Arabic and psychology and Bs in biology and chemistry: “We were food deprived, pulling all-nighters.”

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A-level results raise policy questions – but first let's celebrate achievement | Jon Andrews

Thu, 16/08/2018 - 14:54

Despite the upheaval of the redesigned qualifications, many trends persist

We all know coverage of exam results day is fairly formulaic. Pictures of teenagers jumping up in the air clutching pieces of paper, stories about twins with a string of A*s who are now off to Cambridge, and a parade of people trying to explain all the changes that have happened that year and how it is now all different to before.

Students receiving their A-level results on Thursday will be the first to do so in the latest wave of redesigned qualifications in England. The changes, which began during Michael Gove’s tenure at the Department for Education, mean a move away from modular qualifications and coursework towards linear assessment at the end of two years of study – largely through examinations.

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Stormzy to help fund Cambridge scholarships for black students

Thu, 16/08/2018 - 13:21

Rapper says black students should not think top university education out of reach

Stormzy has announced that he is helping fund two scholarships for black British students to go to Cambridge University.

The grime artist will pay the students’ tuition fees as well as a maintenance grant for up to four years of an undergraduate course.

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Better A-level grades than expected? Time for Ucas adjustment

Thu, 16/08/2018 - 13:00

Result! You’ve hit your grades and then some. Ucas adjustment is where you get to upgrade your degree

Results day shocks aren’t always nasty ones. If you’ve done better than expected, and your grades exceed your firm choice, you can register for Ucas adjustment – which enables you to trade up universities or courses. Your firm place will remain safe until you decide to accept a better offer.

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'Job's a good'un, then': Manchester students open their A-level results - video

Thu, 16/08/2018 - 12:31

Around 290,000 students across England, Wales and Northern Ireland are finding out whether their hard work will be reflected in their A-level grades.

In this video from Manchester, three students from Rochdale sixth form college open their results and find that they’ve all passed with flying colours.

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Green space in every schoolyard: the radical plan to cool Paris

Thu, 16/08/2018 - 12:30

Playground oases could benefit students and city alike, but will making them public prove too controversial in a city on high alert?

It’s only 10am but the heat is already radiating off the asphalt at the École Riblette, a primary school on the outskirts of Paris. Sébastien Maire, the city’s chief resilience officer, points to the school’s lower courtyard, a classic heat trap: surrounded by concrete walls that reflect sunlight inside. Last June, the courtyard hit 55C (131F).

“For three days, school activities stopped,” Maire says. “It was not possible for the children to study, nor to go into the schoolyard. We would forbid them because it’s 55 degrees – you can fry an egg on the ground.”

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What to do when A-level results day goes wrong

Thu, 16/08/2018 - 12:07

I failed to make my Oxford grades and couldn’t face my insurance option. Here’s how I made my plan B

In the summer of 2015 I was looking forward to reading history at Oxford. I had worked so hard and the future was bright. All I needed was three A grades at A-level.

Then came results day, and everything fell apart. I got a D in one English exam and missed the offer. I cried in public as friends disappeared to celebrate and strangers came to see if I was OK. I suddenly felt I had no control over my life and lost all self-belief.

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Three ways to secure your university future after A-level disappointment

Thu, 16/08/2018 - 12:00

Should you go through clearing, risk a re-mark, or resit your exams? Lucy Tobin finds out

If you’re staring at worse-than-expected A-level results, and you’ve missed out on your uni offer, you may feel confused about what to do next – as well as disappointed.

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A-levels: proportion of students in England getting C or above falls

Thu, 16/08/2018 - 11:30

English results drop after exam changes, but Wales and Northern Ireland do better

The proportion of students in England gaining C grades or above in A-levels fell back this year, driven by a relatively weaker performance among girls, as schools and students continue to grapple with the introduction of new, more intensive exams.

The changes dragged down the overall UK pass rates, as the results in England contrasted with better performances in Wales and Northern Ireland. More than half a million students across the three nations were receiving their A-level results.

Related: A-level results day 2018: students await grades from tougher courses – live

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The arts teach us how to express ourselves – and give us freedom to fail | Daisy Buchanan

Thu, 16/08/2018 - 11:00
As music and languages are cut in schools, students are losing the chance to engage in subjects that aren’t all about right and wrong

The German word for protractor is “winkelmesser”. I learned this during a stuffy late-autumn afternoon in 1998, and I will never, ever forget it. Online banking passwords come and go, I’m not entirely sure of the date of my wedding anniversary and I couldn’t tell you the exact number of women named Ellie in the most recent series of Love Island, but “winkelmesser” would be the word that died on my lips with me, if I met my demise in the manner of Citizen Kane.

It makes me sad that fewer teens than ever are engaging with the pleasures of the Winkelmesser. The Association of School and College Leaders has warned that funding pressures could mean that A-level French, German and music are cut from the syllabus altogether. Financial cutbacks mean that schools struggle to find staff and resources to offer these subjects to students. Another issue is that some state schools don’t have the resources to allow students to take four AS-levels, before concentrating on three A-level subjects – which means that students are under more pressure to choose subjects that seem “useful”. Last year it was reported that the number of students studying arts subjects had fallen to its lowest level in a decade.

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A-level results day 2018: students await grades from tougher courses – live

Thu, 16/08/2018 - 10:48

Jittery teenagers - and teachers - from around the country are awaiting their A-level exam results this morning, amid concerns over the impact of reformed courses. Follow us for the latest updates

8.48am BST

The education secretary, Damian Hinds, has defended the government’s A-level course reforms - sort of.

With A-level reform we worked very closely with universities to make sure that in redesigning them they were made more appropriate, better preparing young people to moving on to the next stage, which of course for very many of them will be going on to university.

Having exams at the end of the two years means that it is possible to consider the subject as a whole, to bring all the different parts of it, to synthesise all the different parts of the subject in a way which is a little closer actually to undergraduate study.

Unconditional offers have always been in the system, and they have a legitimate role to play in some subjects - in art, for example, where it’s very commonplace to use unconditional offers. ]

But there has been this very sharp growth and, yeah, I’m concerned about that. Whenever you see an uptick statistic like that, that’s something that needs attention. The office for students is looking at this and they will come back with their findings and recommendations.

8.11am BST

Young people are becoming more sceptical about the benefits of going to university, despite a large majority saying they want to carry on to higher education, research suggests.

The findings coincide with the publication on Thursday of A-level and BTec level three grades for hundreds of thousands of sixth formers. University admissions offices were braced for a flood of enquiries after more than 600,000 candidates applied though the Ucas process this year.

Related: Young people 'more sceptical about value of university' – poll

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Share your reaction and experiences on A-level results day 2018

Thu, 16/08/2018 - 10:19

Whatever your story, and wherever you’re headed next, we want to hear from you

Today has been a long time coming for many A-level students, who have been the first to sit the new linearly structured exams. There have been concerns from parents and students nervously awaiting results nationwide that tougher assessment could mean many won’t get the grades they were hoping for. Whatever your story, and wherever you’re headed next, we want to hear from you.

Have reforms meant you’ve missed out on the university of your dreams, or were you pleasantly surprised? Are you trying to find a clearing place at a university that will take you with lower or higher grades than what you’d expected?

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A-level results day is a cruel trick played on students

Thu, 16/08/2018 - 10:00

We put our kids under relentless pressure yet still claim their grades are being devalued. It’s time we showed some solidarity

It’s A-level results day. You will know this already, because the Telegraph will have some pretty teenagers on its front page, except not in hats or prefixed “Lady”. Or maybe you have an 18-year-old of your own, in which case you will have woken, ashen, from a night plagued by terrors, a clan of hyenas – internationally recognised metaphor for the forces of marketisation – attacking your baby, while you are powerless to help because you’re trying on shoes. I was in on the ground of grade inflation, taking English the first year of GCSEs, which were apparently much easier than O-levels, the first skid on the slippery slope of declining standards. (I got a C – I draw no conclusions from this bitter experience.) This account of education has a satisfying simplicity: in 1987, marking changed, from grade-allocation quotas – 10% should get an A, 15% a B, and so on – to criteria referencing; like a driving test, each grade required a specific level of performance. Results went up every year for the 20-odd years thereafter. Degree results followed: in the decade between 2004 and 2014, the number of students getting a first went from 11 to 19%. Since human intelligence didn’t seem to have appreciated, and employers were always moaning that new entrants to the workplace couldn’t use photocopiers, it was obvious what had happened. Grades had been debased. Schools, in cahoots with examiners, were somehow gaming the system. Nobody was quite clear on the detail. Was it “teaching to the test”? Was there a slippage in marking rigour? Whatevs. If a quarter of students now got top grades, their achievements could not possibly be equal to those of the previous generation, in which only a tenth did.

It was a useful frame politically: by 2010 it fed into the overall austerity bilge that everything had simply got worse “because liberals”; it portrayed teachers as self-interested, working against the long-term interests of students, thus undermining their legitimacy when they said things like: “We can’t teach this new syllabus because we can’t afford the new textbooks”; and it had a fix – make exams harder – which looked easy, so long as you didn’t give any thought to what that might entail. Underlying it was this (unintoxicating) cocktail of observable counterpoints: kids did seem to be working harder. They seemed to be under considerably more pressure and to take everything a lot more seriously. They seemed to reach university with a significant anxiety burden. It was all so complicated; who could say what caused what? They might simply be anxious about debt, or body image. There was no satisfying clunk of a reality totally at odds with an accepted truth; instead, a lot of fine distinctions and blurred causalities.

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Private schools don’t act like charities, so let’s strip them of the benefits | Frances Ryan

Thu, 16/08/2018 - 10:00
In subsidising wealthy people instead of helping poor children, they perpetuate inequality in education and beyond

As teenagers find out their exam results after what’s been a particularly stressful A-level year, I can’t help but think of how different the experience may be depending on whether your parent is, say, a cleaner or a barrister.

Ministers have been accused of a “total and abject failure” to widen access to top universities for disadvantaged students, after analysis by the Labour party found the proportion attending Russell Group universities had increased by only one percentage point since 2010. At the same time, educational charities warned this week that middle-class pupils and their parents were increasingly using university clearing to shop around for the best courses, to the detriment of their less well-off peers. This is the same old story; as with every other advantage wealth in education creates, those with affluent parents and schools can play the clearing system ahead of their poorer peers.

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Is clearing leaving students feeling anxious and isolated?

Thu, 16/08/2018 - 09:30

Getting a university place through clearing is now mainstream – but the transition to an unexpected institution can be difficult

When Freya Marshall-Payne checked her A-level results four years ago, she felt crushing disappointment. She had slipped a grade in one subject, jeopardising her place to read history at Oxford. “I completely lost the sense I had of a future,” she says.

Marshall-Payne entered clearing rather than take a place at her second-choice university. “It was a stab in the dark,” she says. “I think going into clearing was to escape that devastation.”

Related: Let’s not pile even more pressure on teens over their A-level results | Nick Hillman

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