Headteacher back A level marks

IPSWICH headteachers have backed the beleaguered A-level after an inquiry found little wrong with this year's marks.A mammoth inquiry into A-Level grades saw just 1,089 out of 91,000 students receive a grades boost.

IPSWICH headteachers have backed the beleaguered A-level after an inquiry found little wrong with this year's marks.

A mammoth inquiry into A-Level grades saw just 1,089 out of 91,000 students receive a grades boost.

Public confidence in the exam once known as the gold standard dropped to an all-time low in recent months after concerns students were deliberately marked down in the summer.

But Northgate High headteacher Neil Watts described the A-Level system as "robust" and insisted it still deserved its gold standard status.


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He said: "When Paula Radcliffe broke the world marathon record at the weekend, it was seen as a raising of the standard.

"If the story had been done in educational terms, people would have said she ran a shorter distance."

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Just two Northgate students were upgraded – with no impact on either of their university applications.

Mr Watts said: "We expected about that number because our A-Level results were so good in the first place.

"Students who achieved high marks should be congratulated and it's a shame the inquiry overshadowed them."

Students now sit A-Levels in two stages – AS at the end of the first year and A2 12 months later.

It is those changes that many have highlighted as a factor in falling standards.

But Mr Watts believes the broader syllabus studied in the first year – often including up to five subjects – has helped students improve.

He said: "This is the first year of a huge change – give it time to bed down before we start tinkering with it.

"Standards have risen and it's because of the new system. It's interesting that the A-Level is still seen as the benchmark internationally."

Ipswich High headmaster Ian Galbraith – who had four students upgraded -also backed the exam.

He said: "It will take a little time to recover from this, but the main thing is that people shouldn't feel undervalued."

Mr Galbraith said the number of upgrades was roughly what he was expecting.

He said: "We'll be getting in touch with the students and passing on the news – I hope they are jolly pleased."

Despite a vote of confidence in the A-level from the report, Mr Galbraith believes improved communication is the key to restoring public faith.

He said: "Teaching standards having changed – you always teach to the best of your ability.

"What has changed is that the exams are being marked to a different standard

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