Today’s Education in the media blog looks at coverage of yesterday’s A Level results day, and the number of students going on to study at university.
A Level Results
Yesterday, Thursday 16 August, this year’s A Level results were revealed. The results were covered widely by media, with a number of aspects getting picked up.
The most common angle focused on Modern Foreign Language subjects, in particular A Level Chinese Mandarin overtaking German in popularity. This was covered by the Independent, the Guardian, the Telegraph, the Times, the Sun, the Mail and the i.
Chinese Mandarin saw a significant increase in popularity, with an 8.6% rise this year. This contributes to 5,000 pupils being on track to be fluent in Mandarin by 2020. This upward trend in Mandarin suggests that students are thinking long-term about their careers and useful skills for the future, a factor that has also played a huge role in the 23.9 per cent rise in pupils studying Computing.
There was also wide coverage of the increase in top grades (As and A*s) – which was the highest level of top grades in six years. The Telegraph, the Express, the Mail, the i, the Mirror and the Star all covered this.
Yesterday marks the first results of a further 12 reformed A Levels, following the introduction of the first reformed exams last year. These reforms were made to better prepare students for further study or employment.
The overall picture following the reforms is one of stability. The UK pass rate remains consistent at 97.6 per cent this year, compared to 97.9 per cent last year.
Secretary of State for Education Damian Hinds said:
I want to congratulate everyone getting their results today. It is the culmination of a lot of hard work and dedication – from both those receiving their marks and the teachers who’ve been supporting them every step of the way. They should rightly feel proud of their achievements.
We’ve worked to improve education for every child – from their early years through to secondary school and beyond. I also want young people to have wider choice, whether that’s going to university, earning through an apprenticeship or in future taking technical qualifications that match the best in the world.
Today is a significant milestone in the lives of many young people. No matter what path they choose to take next, we are working to make sure it provides them with a world-class education and a passport to an exciting future.
Apprenticeships and Higher Education
Today, Friday 17 August, the Guardian ran an opinion piece on the alternatives for students who are not going on to study at university. This piece questioned the options available for those who will not be pursuing academic routes.
Full-time academic degrees at our world class universities will be right for some people, but we do not want one route to be considered superior to any other. That’s why we are transforming technical education to put it on a par with our academic system.
We are also working to improve the quality of apprenticeships, with an increase of almost 1000 per cent in the last year in the number of people taking the new, high quality apprenticeships developed with businesses.
There are also over 100 universities on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers able to offer apprenticeships – including 15 members of the Russell Group. There are now 60 approved apprenticeships at Level 6-7 (degree level) including 46 degree apprenticeships – which include a degree or master’s degree. More are also in development, including degree apprenticeships in aerospace engineering, architecture, police constable and nuclear scientist.
We are also working to roll out the new T Level technical qualification for 2020.
The Huffington Post and the Sun also wrote articles featuring Gogglebox star Josh Tapper, who has joined the Government Communications Service apprenticeship scheme. He has been promoting apprenticeships and has spoken of his belief that both academic routes and more vocational routes will work for different people, and it is important to evaluate the choices available.
Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Anne Milton said:
Our reforms have driven up investment in the quality of apprenticeships to build skills and give people more opportunities to succeed. I’m pleased to see the number of people starting our new high quality apprenticeships – created in partnership with businesses and employers – continuing to rise.
In the last 12 months more than 100,000 more people have started these new apprenticeships, putting them on the path to success in a range of cutting-edge and exciting industries such as aerospace engineering, nuclear science and architecture. As young people across the country receive their A level results today I would encourage them to consider the opportunities an apprenticeship can provide.
Today’s figures also show more businesses are also getting on board with the new system and the chance to use their levy funds to kick start amazing apprenticeship programmes that will change their businesses – and people’s lives – for the better.