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From: David H Rhodes, Keeble Park North, Bishopthorpe, York. THE school examination results have been announced and no doubt many students are rejoicing in what they have attained through very hard work. Congratulations to them. This does, however, bring an air of confusion as to the genuine merit and value of the grades attained. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that 50 years ago only a percentage of examinees were passed in each grade, A, B, etc. If so, it would have had the benefit of stricter marking and no added points for crude expressions.
Universities would have had a better selection process as there would have been limited numbers in each grade and thus quality would stand out. No examination board could ever set papers year in and out of exactly the same difficulty, thus the percentage gain would have smoothed out such anomalies. The fact that, in recent times, A*s have been introduced to distinguish better grading because of better pass rates year on year, might suggest that slightly increasing the difficulty of the exam papers may be a way forward. The Government, and especially Education Ministers, revel in the results at this time of year. Why then is there no mention of the fact that about 50 per cent of our pupils still can't manage five GCSE passes? This means that years later, Tony Blair's wish for 50 per cent of students to enter higher education is not being met. May I suggest a pass in both English and mathematics at GCSE level be a pre-requisite before A-levels be taken. From: Mrs Judith Robson. Leeds Road, Selby.
CONCERNING the letter from Miss Judith Wood, (Yorkshire Post, August 23), headlined "A system that worked", from 1958 until he retired in 1969, my late husband, John Whitehead, was headmaster of Allerton Grange School in Leeds. During these years he built up what had been a secondary modern to a fully comprehensive 10-form entry, aged 11 to 18 years school. The system catered for all abilities, from remedial to top-flight university level. All children were given the opportunity to reach their own potential whatever the level. The curriculum included PE, housecraft, needlework, woodwork, metalwork, physics, biology, chemistry, as well as English, maths, languages, etc. All pupils had "hands on" experience which enabled them to choose a career, be it practical or academic. As David Wright pointed out on the same page, we need fewer of the "Mickey Mouse" degrees but more practical qualifications. From: Mrs Jean Lees, Upper Batley Lane, Batley.
I HAVE just read Lord Baker's article, "Why our children need the return of technical colleges" (Yorkshire Post, August 16). Why has it taken someone so long to bring this into the open for people to discuss? I went to school until I was 13, actually left a week before my 14th birthday and went into a mill office and learnt all the office skills at work. That was in 1942, and I became the book-keeper and wages clerk. We went to night school for English, typing, book-keeping and shorthand and got a certificate with yearly marks. My son went, aged 15, as an apprentice heavy goods vehicle mechanic and went to night school for technical drawing and other subjects until he had finished his apprenticeship. There are many young people who would make plumbers, electricians, bricklayers, mechanics if they were guided into it. They can't all keep up with computers and university life, but there can be job satisfaction completing a job well done – if they have the right start. From: D Downs, Mountbatten Avenue, Sandal, Wakefield.,
AT long last, the Prime Minister has acknowledged as a tragic error, the reduction of the competitive element in school sport (Yorkshire Post, August 25). Can he now go further and admit to removing the competitive spirit in schools generally? Our Olympic sportspeople have achieved their success not only by personal...