After a considerable amount of uproar and backlash to get A-Level and GCSE results reassessed, the outcome may have the opposite effect and do more harm than good.
As many of us know, students in schools around the UK did not sit their final exams due to COVID-19, perhaps one of the most disastrous decisions ever made by the government. Of course, the decision to place the entire UK population under house arrest and criminalise any business activity deemed “non-essential” was in itself not only unlawful but also suicidal. Since students were unable to sit their exams, the first time something like this has ever happened, students were instead to be given grades that were determined by an algorithm, although the Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson originally gave the impression that students would have grades determined by mock exams and class work. Then again, it certainly is not unusual for the government right now to be sending mixed messages – they do a very good job of it.
A-Level results day was a spectacle in itself. Thousands of students went into total meltdown over their results and many were swift to criticise everything and everyone – except themselves. The infamous so-called algorithm in particular was the main source of anguish towards A-Level students in which many took to the streets to protest holding Socialist Workers signs and colourful cardboard placards as of means to show how bitter and upset they were. The general messages being “You’ve ruined our future” and “This is a not a postcode lottery" and other meaningless lies that they have supposedly bought into. But I know full well that this was just a giant pity party, an excuse for teenagers to just march onto the streets and demonstrate how unfair the system is and how the government and everything has failed them. Do not get me wrong, some students genuinely did not receive good results and I understand why there’s a lot of anger as I strongly believe students should still have gone into school and sat their exams. It is one thing to be angry, but it is rather nonsensical to mass protest in the middle of a pandemic, especially when the organisers of some of these protests claimed that social distancing would be observed – hence I cannot take the youth of today seriously – not even myself.
The government gave into the demands by the distraught teenagers, and made it so A-Level and GCSE students would be given the best grades possible by being determined by teachers' biased estimates as well as a free and altered appeals process which guaranteed students good results anyways plus at absolute worst case, they would get their predicted grades anyways, hence GCSE’s were a breeze for nearly all those who were supposed to sit them. The outcome was that this year had the highest ever percentage of A* and A's at A-Level whereas GCSE students had the highest proportion of top grades since records began. This may seem like good news, not just for the students who were meant to sit their exams, but for schools, colleges and universities. However, what this has done is essentially significantly lowered the value and worthiness of the results, since most students, if not all, got the same results that, if they had actually sat the exams, would most likely not have received the grades they were given.
Unfortunately, the lockdown has brought out the worst in people, which heavily outweighs all the positives, meaning that students felt a sense of full entitlement to get top grades purely out of spite and anger at the system. The damage this could potentially cause is unthinkable, not just for themselves but even for those who sat and will sit their A-Levels before and after 2020. How on earth will employers determine which candidate is best fit for a position when all of them attained A* and A's? The drop-out rates from universities will be absolutely staggering because many students will be taking on subjects at prestigious universities in which would be way out their league. The results this year have provided a false sense of hope for many students who now think their A*’s in all of their subject’s will mean they can do absolutely anything without having to worry about failure will be seriously damaging to their livelihoods – the sad thing being is they do not even realise it. Many could potentially become extreme sufferers of imposter syndrome – the eventual feeling that they are not responsible or worthy of the results they have. Just when you think lockdown has ruined enough people’s lives already, the work is not yet over. The effects would be almost lifelong, with many young people doomed to a life of potentially working in a field or studying in a degree they are not good enough at.
Personally, I am more thankful than ever I got the results I was given, at least I know the scope and range of my capabilities and realise that it is all about finding opportunity as opposed to finding your passion. Unfortunately, once again, the grading this year may have only exacerbated that desire to follow passions where opportunity does not exist, let alone even being good enough to practice doing it. It will take some years for the class of 2020 to realise that their over predicted grades will become their biggest enemy and challenge to overcome, since they are unable to determine exactly how knowledgeable they are in the subjects they were supposed to sit their exams in. Maybe this eventually become more apparent hopefully sooner than later that grades simply do not matter, yet the messaging over the past 20 years has become clear: get top grades and university is essential, otherwise you are a failure! It could not be any more wrong to suggest that. I sincerely hope I am wrong, but just like money, when there’s too much of no longer meaningful or valuable. Exam results work in the same way, if they all become over-inflated, then they are worthless. Maybe, this could be the final nail in the coffin for universities, since their already empty pockets may be further emptied when students all drop out from majors in which they are unable to complete.
What if, and this is a bit if, the need for A-Levels and university degrees becomes scrapped altogether and we went back to time when children left school at 16 and went into the world of work to gain proper experience and a better chance of future career employability whilst learning and earning at the same time. But knowing the direction we’re going at the moment; it appears the government would rather make us suffer with increasing student debt and prolong our suffering by receiving progressive left-wing Marxist teachings. So much for preparing the young for careers in the future – looks as if the Diversity Inclusion Officer roles will be much sought after, maybe even I will try my luck.
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