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The Politics of A-Level Results Day

BY: Jade Azim | Category: Education | Submitted: 2013-08-10 11:13:35
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Article Summary: "Demonisation on a day that should belong to the students. Throughout A-Levels and the subsequent stress of revision and essay-writing, I have looked on at the Department for Education making firm decisions that, yes, the qualifications I have worked hard for are obsolete, and then I watch them take a U-turn, a characteristic tha.."


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Right now I anticipate two things; my results for my A2 exams, obviously, and the frenzy that surrounds what has become a national media circus.

I anticipate the former with a mixture of nervousness and excitement, but the latter fills me with an altogether different kind of dread, for tabloids will most likely sport headlines like 'Have exams gotten easier?', 'Is university even worth it?' and, of course, you can chuck into the mix The Telegraph's now cliche collection of young girls jumping mid-air.

And it is not that the first two questions are not worth debating, necessarily, but instead they both highlight a dichotomy on what children are raised to believe. There have been a few things I have been told to achieve throughout my life; good grades, a degree, and a steady career. And it is August 15th whereby I will learn if I have achieved the first, and that will probably decide the fate of the other two as well. But results day has become more than that; after years of academic indoctrination, of standardised testing, of continuous ideological feats by Michael Gove, this is finally a day where students can, hopefully, pat themselves on the back. Instead, it has become a day of politics. Instead of students taking the limelight, it is the generations past that now taunts these results, questioning their worth, questioning if university is even valuable anymore. Our generation have become something of a punching bag. One may only look at TIME's recent cover calling us the 'Me, Me, Me' generation while altogether dismissing the harsh economic climate we have inherited from our parents, to see the demonisation of youth. Results Day is no exception.

Throughout A-Levels and the subsequent stress of revision and essay-writing, I have looked on at the Department for Education making firm decisions that, yes, the qualifications I have worked hard for are obsolete, and then I watch them take a U-turn, a characteristic that tends to plague this coalition, before deciding a whole different method on how to make A-Levels even more standardised.
And it is then results day that all these questions once again come to fruition. And all the while as curricula is judged, statistics are published in bold highlighting the abundance of privately-schooled pupils heading to Oxbridge, LSE, UCL, KCL and the like, while no one in this government sees the link between poorer students and the system's failures that Gove only wishes to exacerbate, particularly during a time when austerity has eroded at school resources, the faults caused by the arbitrary nature of exams that politicians, and the Daily Mail among other tabloids and mid-market middle England papers, say are too easy.

Instead of seeing a congratulations or condolences, we are bombarded with doubt and demeaning, adults who have ventured through a system outdated and of decades past suddenly rise up to condemn a 'culture of resits' or some other snazzy-sounding phrase that specifically targets achievements they deem not as good as their own. It becomes an ideological battleground.

Instead I would like to make a toast, a toast to the students of 2013. Because despite what you see on results day, be it 'this generation have not worked as hard as ours' or 'are A-Levels getting easier?', despite what you get, despite whether you are a mathematical genius or a budding artist, whether you go on to Oxford or a vocational course at a former polytechnic, those previous two years were not worthless, the exams, you may well know, were certainly not easy. And you did a bloody good job.

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