Domino effect: A-level chaos could hit GCSE students

By Ian Dunt

The chaos afflicting university entrance may have a domino effect on further education, a union has warned.

The ominous message comes on the same day as GCSE results are released, with 750,000 children in England, Wales and Northern Ireland discovering if their revision paid off.

Grades again hit a record high, with rougly sieven in ten students scoring at least a C grade – up two per cent on last year.

Around one in five (22.6%) students achieved an A* or an A – up 1% on last year.

But thousands are still underperforming, with education experts warning the consequences of poor or average GCSE results could be severe.

Underperforming pupils could easily end up as ‘neets’ due to the domino effect of A-level students being denied places at university, according to the University and College Union (UCU).

With over a quarter of university applicants still without a place and the number of vacancies fading fast, analysts are concerned that many of the higher-performing students failing to get into university will be snapped up by colleges.

Many students who would normally have switched to vocational training after GCSEs would be disproportionately affected, leading to a rise in the number of young people not in education, employment or training.

The bad news did not end there. The Telegraph reported this morning that head masters are increasingly concerned that universities were using a strong of A grades at GCSE as an informal minimum entry requirement.

Martin Stephen, headmaster of St Paul’s School in London, told the paper: “The A* is being used as a crude, preliminary filter which is hugely regrettable because it simply discriminates against the late developer.

“There are a significant number of very clever people who didn’t show what they were capable of at the age of 16. Children have to be allowed to make mistakes – it is a fundamental part of learning – but our treadmill of an examination system no longer allows this to happen.”

Figures released by university admissions service Ucas show that some 187,488 applicants are still fighting through clearing, with only 18,000 coourses still with vacancies.