Graphic: Norfolk headteachers: Let A-level students enjoy results day
Headteachers last night said Norwich and Norfolk's students should be allowed to celebrate their A-level and GCSE results without claims of 'easier exams' undermining their achievements.
Teenagers across the region will head to their schools, sixth forms and colleges today to collect their all-important A-level results.
The outcome is likely to have a major impact on their futures, with university places and job opportunities all relying on those grades.
But the area's headteachers have warned students could once again face claims that they have sat easier exams than previous cohorts.
David Brunton, principal at City Academy Norwich, in Earlham, said: 'We get that every year so I wouldn't be surprised if we do this year. I think it's hugely unfair in terms of both the work that the teachers put in and how hard I know particularly A-level students work nowadays to get the grades universities want them to get.
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'Remember, most of our A-level teachers are experienced teachers who known A-levels for many years and they don't think it's getting easier.'
A steady rise in both A-level and GCSE results over the years has made the annual accusations almost inevitable as excited and anxious students discover their grades.
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In recent months, government ministers and the exams watchdog have fanned those claims with talk of an overhaul of both qualifications.
Just a couple of months before results were due to be published, education secretary Michael Gove revealed proposals to get rid of GCSEs in favour of a return to O-levels – having previously called on universities to help set the curriculum for A-levels to ensure they properly prepared learners for higher education.
In June, Ofqual, the exams watchdog, launched an official consultation on plans to overhaul the A-levels system including setting a limit on re-sits to stop students improving their grades and potentially scrapping AS-levels.
But Brian Conway, headteacher at Notre Dame High School at Surrey Street in Norwich, said the gradual increase in the pass rate was down to a better knowledge of the exams and more focused teaching.
He added: 'That's why you see exam results creeping up – and they are creeping, not leaping up.
'I also think students are making better choices. Some aren't necessarily choosing to go into A-levels – some are choosing the apprenticeship route. They are choising a better route to get them into employment.
'It means those who may have been weaker in the past aren't taking A-levels, so the pass rate will rise.'
Mark Farrar, principal at Reepham High School and College, said the annual results-bashing as soon as grades were released could have a big impact on teenagers.
He said: 'As someone who has got a daughter who's getting her A-level results, I don't think it's fair. It would be terribly de-motivating for any student.
'It won't all be celebrations for everyone. There will be disappointment as well. We have to be sensitive – it's an emotional time.'
Go to www.eveningnew24.co.uk for live coverage of results day including how our schools have fared, good luck messages, and lots of photos of our celebrating students.