In the UK, the top grades for ‘A’ Levels and GCSEs rose again this year, causing more accusations that the exams are becoming easier. But School Standards Minister for the UK, David Miliband has said that the results are a reflection of hard work, not of the exams getting easier.
Here in Portugal, the International School of the Algarve in Porches also recorded some of its best ever exam results for both GCSEs and ‘A’ Levels. The school’s GCSE results are the best since the introduction of the examinations in 1988. The pass rate was 100 per cent and the top grades (A* – C) were achieved by 82.9 per cent of pupils. This compares to the UK average of 50.2 per cent. The Resident spoke to headmaster John Butterworth, who was very pleased with the pupils’ results. “I am really happy for all my students,” he explained. “It is also extremely encouraging that more than half of the Year 11 pupils who sat their GCSEs this year will be staying on into the Sixth form to continue with their education and begin their ‘A’ Level qualifications.” Mr Butterworth was also openly pleased with the results from the ‘A’ Level students, boasting a 100 per cent pass rate at the school. On whether the results were improving because the examinations are getting easier he said: “No, absolutely not! It’s an insult to all of the hard work from both teachers and students alike to suggest that GCSEs and ‘A’ Levels are becoming easier. In the UK, students have the opportunity to do more course work, which may give them more scope to excel. But, that does not mean exams are getting easier and it is not something that we do at the International School anyway.”
He also went on to explain how pupils often get criticised for taking ‘soft option’ subjects such as dance and media studies. “There are many people who believe that those kind of subjects are easier and are therefore partly to do with the better pass rates that we are experiencing. However, irrespective of that, those subjects are not options at the International School, therefore as a reason why the results have improved at this school, it is not viable.”
Those who performed exceptionally well include Moira Nicolson from Silves, who achieved 10 GSCE passes, with seven of those at grade A. She also took an early Portuguese AS level and achieved a B in that. Robert Cardoso from Portimão also achieved 10 passes, including five at grade A. And finally Wayne Ayre from Luz passed 10 GCSE examinations, with six grade As and one A* grade. Mr Butterworth also commented that recent ‘A’ Level students have gone on to study in the UK, Holland, Canada and Portugal.