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Didn't they do well?

Betsan Powys | 10:55 UK time, Thursday, 20 August 2009

Didn't they do well?

The A level pass grade in Wales remained the same but even more pupils opened the sheaf of papers they're handed these days to find they'd got an A.

My inbox is full of glowing headlines. Here's a sample of those quickest off the mark:

"Another successful year for Cardiff's A level students";
"Once again this year Conwy County Borough Advanced Level students have performed exceptionally well, with all grades showing an improvement on the high level achieved last year".
"It has been another outstanding year for A Level students in Caerphilly County Borough with an overall pass rate of 97.7% (Grades A - E), across all examination boards, surpassing the Welsh average of 97.6%;
"Students across Blaenau Gwent have reached even greater heights this year with the county borough's best ever A Level results";

"A cause of celebration" says the Education Minister Jane Hutt.

So they did do well.

Next question: did your child/sister's son/next door's girl/grandchildren do well enough in what Michael Gove, the Shadow Education Minister, has described as the "harder" subjects, or did they do well in a system that's been "dumbed down"?

Hang on, you say, that's not relevant in Wales. Education is devolved. Michael Gove may get to revamp the system in England but not here. Education policy will be decided by the Welsh Assembly Government, not by whoever's in charge in Westminster.

Bang on but what if your child/sister's son/next door's girl/grandchildren want to go to University in England? If a Media Studies A level from a school in England is worth less in future than one in English or Maths, do we really think admissions officers in universities in England will regard a Media Studies A level taken in Wales any differently? Hardly.

So what do the Welsh Conservatives, who'd like to be in charge of education in Wales, think about Mr Gove's views on A levels and league tables? Did he do well or do they want to stick up for standards and for that Media Studies A level?

Silence. No press releases falling into inboxes. How come?

Does Paul Davies, the Tories' education spokesperson in the Assembly agree with a policy of giving "harder" subjects more kudos? Or to put it in multiple choice language, is Mr Gove right or wrong?

The party in Wales, he says, will spend the next few months discussing policy issues, formulating their own plans for 2011. "It's quite possible we'll agree with him but first we must have the debate".

Given we're likely to hear various versions of it between now and the General Election - marks out of ten for that response?


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