Hurrah, Justice for A-level students – aspiration and ambition respected at last!

 Hurrah, Justice for A-level students – aspiration and ambition respected at last! 

Well done to those young people who stood up for what is just and won the right to allow their teacher’s predicted grade to count. For many it may be too late, as they’ve already accepted an offer they considered to be second best. I very much hope that the universities will be more flexible and have the leniency to allow candidates who now have the grades to be admitted and also for those who accepted their insurance offer or went through clearing to withdraw.

This is also a relief for the GCSE students and their families, who were so anxious after the debacle that followed the A-level results.

In my view, for those students who were in limbo yesterday, but are now in a stronger position, this is the first of three battles to be won. The first, the demand to allow their teacher assessment grade to go through, they have now won; the second is whether they will still be able to get a place at their number one choice university to study the course they wanted and the third is surviving when they get onto the course. I will explain more about the third later in this blog. It must be said that many parents and students are sceptical of teacher-awarded grade, as they question the possibility of favouritism and prejudices. At least the new position allows the students to see the grades that were predicted if they want to see them.

There are two main issues I’ll address here: what happens next to get to the right university and how to survive and perhaps thrive on the course.

It is good to see that some universities were very reasonable and took the initiative, even before the government changed its position and not only allowed predicted grades, but actually decided to give a place to all students who had an offer from them, irrespective of predicted or awarded grades. Those very few universities include Worcester College at Oxford.

It is interesting to see that the vast majority of universities did not do that and there can be all sorts of reason, including the fact that it may be impractical for many due to the number of offers they initially gave out, while resources is another.  I will speak a little more on the issue of resources and student numbers a little later.

As for the immediate step for those students who have now been offered a place, I’d like to make a few basic recommendations.

  • Remember that the actual university you attend matters more than the degree you get. Try and get into the most reputable university if you can. Most of the courses offered by top universities are usually more serious and not considered to be micky mouse ones by most!
  • Resources for university will be limited, as, after Brexit and the hostilities, both actual and perceived, far fewer foreign students are coming. There is likely to be a record number of students at many universities and some may consider thinning the herd. You probably need to be focused and work hard to stay on the course.
  • Being at university may well be the best three or four years of your life, so make the best of it; work hard and play hard too. The two are not mutually exclusive, you just need to work smart and have the discipline to be productive in the way you organise yourself. Be aware that you have been denied the practice of skills required for high intensity studying in preparation for a major exam, as the A-level exams were cancelled. Electronic media and devices can be an asset or a liability to your productivity. You decide. See my blog

There are also lessons to be taken away for younger people in what has happened over the pandemic. The key lesson is the importance of consistent focus and diligence throughout the academic year, as we do not know if teacher assessment will be used to determine grades in the future.

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