On the 16 and 23 August, Barnsley pupils received their A-Level and GCSE results.
Results days are always times of great anticipation and, for most, anxiety about what the envelope contains!
Whatever the results, those who have tried their hardest deserve our recognition and congratulations.
Across Barnsley the A-Level pass rate is 98.7%. Although this is slightly lower than last year’s pass rate, this is largely due to the changes to the way A-Levels have been examined.
This year has seen a shift away from the coursework and modular examination system, to one that is entirely exam based. This has affected 24 of the most commonly taken A-Levels, and across the country the pass rate has fallen by 0.3%. Barnsley’s pass rate is still 1.1% higher than the national average.
I will also be keeping a careful eye on GCSE results, how they affect Barnsley’s position in the national league tables, and what we can do to ensure that our schools continue to improve.
Results days are also an important time to recognise all those who have supported our pupils along the way, including parents and carers, who offer invaluable encouragement.
Thanks must also go to our hard-working teachers who are essential in ensuring that pupils get the results to take them to the next stage of their educational career.
Whilst we celebrate our dedicated teachers, national policy has had the opposite effect with over 80% of Barnsley schools facing cuts in their budgets. These cuts are highly damaging – you simply cannot deliver a top-quality education on the cheap.
The education of our young people is something we have got to get right. That is why I think that the UK needs a ‘National Education Service’ – along the lines of our NHS – to ensure that every pupil, regardless of background, can access the best possible education.
But we have got to look beyond schools and structures if we are to design an education system fit for the 21st century.
The challenges posed by automation and the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ mean that we will have to adapt to in order to survive. I believe our future education system should prioritise acquiring skills so that young people are better equipped to face a rapidly changing world of work.
The results of the last two weeks clearly demonstrate what our pupils can achieve when they try their hardest and are supported by parents and teachers. Imagine the results that could be achieved if budget cuts were not tying one hand behind our teachers’ backs.
I would like to warmly congratulate every pupil who has received their results and wish them all the very best for whatever they do in the future. Many thanks also to all those who have supported our pupils in their educational careers so far!
Qualifications are often gateways to the next stage of a career. Whether that is going on to university, or taking a vocational route into Higher Education – there will be fantastic opportunities that have been made available because of the hard work and resilience that has been clearly demonstrated by these results. Well done!
This article was originally published in the Barnsley Chronicle on 24 August 2018.