UK: A-Level results provide cover for problems plaguing education

published 22 August 2017 updated 29 August 2017

Following the release of A-Level results, UK teacher unions have highlighted the hard work and commitment of both students and their teachers despite a hastily reformed curriculum and funding cuts in education.

NASUWT: Standards maintained

“These results have been achieved, by the hard work and commitment of young people and their teachers, despite the upheaval to syllabuses and year-on-year cuts to resources,” said the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) General Secretary, Chris Keates.

“In the face of such turbulence, it is a tribute to the hard work and dedication of teachers and students that standards overall have been maintained,” she added.

There are some early indications that the move to greater examined content in these qualifications may be impacting on the outcomes achieved by some learners, although more examination of the data will be required before any definitive conclusions can be reached, she said.


Reiterating that good A-Level results improve the life choices of young people whether they choose higher education or an alternative path, she explained that university is not right for everybody. Therefore, it is important that the Government does more to support young people who choose to go directly into employment, by providing more opportunities through high quality work placements and apprenticeships.

In addition, “there is still a great deal to be done to remove the barriers to educational achievement created by poverty and disadvantage”, she said. “Everyone should have an equal opportunity to develop their skills and talents.”

NUT: Unnecessary stress

Congratulating students on their A-Level results, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) Head of Education and Equalities, Rosamund McNeil, noted that “it is through the hard work and commitment shown by students and their teachers that they have achieved what they have”.

She stressed that this cohort was the first to face the new linear A-Levels and as such, the challenges that followed too. Indeed, the “upheaval of a hastily reformed curriculum and the changes leading to a reduction in much of the coursework elements created unnecessary stress and concern for pupils and teachers alike”.

Perfect storm ahead

While results nationally may have remained in line with those of the previous year, some schools and colleges will no doubt see considerable variation, McNeil warned. This volatility and the accountability measures which use results can have damaging and unfair consequences, she said.

Considering these challenges alongside the inadequate funding of schools and colleges, the state of teachers’ pay and their unsustainable workload, this creates “a perfect storm of teacher retention problems”, she highlighted. These issues need be addressed “to ensure young people have access to the high-quality and well-rounded educational experience they deserve”.