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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 August, 2003, 15:44 GMT 16:44 UK
Record results in A-level exams
Students taking A-level exam
Students in Wales did better than in England
Students in Wales have achieved record results in this year's A-level exams.

Figures released on Thursday morning show that 96.4% of papers taken passed with grades A to E.

The number of papers awarded the top A grade has also increased.

The results have been welcomed by the Welsh Assembly Government, but the Institute of Directors, which represents many business leaders, has branded the exam "completely meaningless".

More teenagers than ever are passing the exam and more than ever - 23% - are scoring the top A grade, up 1.5% on last year.

Clearing numbers
Aberystwyth 01970 622 000
Bangor 0800 085 1818 0800 3285 763 (enquiries in Welsh)
Cardiff 029 20 876000
Swansea Institute 0800 731 0884
Newport 01633 432432
Lampeter 01570 424600
Swansea 01792 295097 or 01792 513050 (10 lines) E-mail clearing@swansea.ac.uk
Trinity, Carmarthen 01267 676767
University of Glamorgan 0800 716 925 Plus online 24-hour chatroom/webcam with students and advisers at www.glam.ac.uk/clearing from midnight Wed until Friday
UWIC 029 20 416 040

Thursday's results compare favourably with those in other parts of the UK.

In England 95.3% of entries passed - that is just over 1% down on Wales.

Northern Ireland retains in the top spot - with just over 97% of papers gaining a grade A to E.

Students in Scotland sit highers rather than A levels.

Thursday's results will be a cause for celebration for thousands of teenagers - but the body that represents company bosses has branded the A-level as "completely meaningless".

Welsh Education Minister Jane Davidson said: "This set of students have taken their AS-levels and A-levels in the greatest scrutiny.

"The exams are not getting easier but our students are performing better every year."

She said the work of ACCAC - the regulatory authority in Wales - gave her "every confidence" that standards in the exam had been maintained.

Welsh Assembly Education Secretary, Jane Davidson
Jane Davidson is confident exam standards have been maintained.

"Students can be justly proud of their achievements," she added.

But the Institute of Directors says the exam no longer presents student with a real test.

The Welsh Joint Education Committee (WJEC) accounts for the vast majority of results in Wales.

This year, there were 34,809 WJEC entries for A-Level exams, a rise of 12%, with 21,769 papers taken in Wales.

Brian Rogers, assistant director of the Welsh Joint Education Committee said the examination system is unrecognisable in comparison to that of years ago as students face an exam in their first year.

'Irresponsible comments'

He said: "I think it's unfortunate that there are always references to dumbing down during this time of year, when youngsters are really excited about the results they've achieved and the result of hard work.

"It's unfortunate, the timing of some of the comments of the Institute of Directors, it's slightly irresponsible on a morning like this when this is the climax of many youngster's efforts."

The Welsh Local Government Association has welcomed the record Welsh A-level results.

Education spokesman, Councillor Jeff Jones, said: "Yet again Wales has produced remarkable results, which are a testimony to the efforts of pupils, teachers and local education authorities.

"The better performance of Welsh schools compared with their counterparts in England is in part attributable to the higher average spend in Wales compared to (non-metropolitan areas of) England.

'Teachers' contracts'

"Welsh local authority investment in education has this year increased to an all-time high and is clear indication of local government's continued commitment to education in Wales."

However, the Welsh teachers' union, Ucac, claims the continuing rise in results will not be possible if the changes to teachers' contracts are not fully funded in September 2003 and the Welsh Assembly Government allows classroom assistants to teach children.

Gruff Hughes, acting general secretary, said: We must ensure that pupils in Wales are taught by teachers, or we cannot guarantee that standards will be maintained."


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