Commenting on the A-level results, Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union, said:

“Congratulations must go to young people and their teachers who have worked so hard to deliver yet another excellent set of results.

“This year’s results have been achieved against a backdrop of false claims from the Government that the current A-level system lacks rigour, that exams are getting easier and that more reform is the only answer to this ‘crisis’.

“This undermines the achievements of young people and their teachers and it threatens to fatally undermine the principle of a broad qualifications structure, which enables all young people to make the most of their skills and talents.

“Of concern is the increasing gender divide that we are witnessing in students’ subject choices. This is an issue that the Government cannot ignore as it could have serious ramifications for the future education and employment options of boys and girls.

“The Government’s cuts to independent careers advice and guidance for young people are exacerbating this risk.

“The rise today in the number of entries for so-called ‘facilitating’ or ‘traditional’ subjects is the likely consequence of the introduction of the English Baccalaureate in school league tables in 2010, and changing perceptions of the kind of qualifications that elite universities value.

“While young people should of course be fully supported to follow such a path if this is where their interests lie, the NASUWT is concerned that some young people and schools may be feeling pressured into focusing on these subjects to the exclusion of pursuing a broader curriculum, which recognises and values qualifications that lead into high-quality work placements and apprenticeships.

“School leaders, teachers and business leaders have all consistently raised concerns about the impact of the Government’s education reforms, including the changes being made to A-levels, on young people’s life chances and employability.

“At a time when youth unemployment is at scandalous levels, it is clear the Government needs to re-think its plans.”

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