3

A-Level students have, this year, received the highest proportion of top grades since 2012. There had been widespread fears that the education reforms, which have reduced the number of coursework students undertake and increased the emphasis on pupils' performance in examinations, would lead to poorer results being produced around the country. Commentators have expressed their concern about the increased difficulty of the rigorous two-year qualification process. However, this year's results have shown a rise in the proportion of sixth-form students achieving both A and A* grades, matching what was achieved by the cohort in 2012.

After worrisome predictions, the national picture looks satisfactory

This year's A-Level statistics show that the overall pass rate for exam entries this year was 97.6% which is a marginal reduction from last year's pass rate of 97.9%.

However, experts do not consider this minimal fall in passes worrying or a cause for concern.

The percentage of pupils gaining either A or A* grades this year is 26.4%, a rise of 0.01% in comparison to the cohort of 2017. Whilst this is only a minuscule rise, it still comes as a relief [VIDEO] to students, parents and those working in the education system because of the sheer scale of uncertainty which surrounded the predictions for this year's results.

These results have come at a cost for teachers and students

Whilst government officials in the Department for Education have shown delight at the stable picture of educational attainment in England and Wales, both school staff and pupils are arguing that these positive results have come at a cost as it has been their health which this year's reforms have affected most.

The head of the Association of School and College Leaders, Geoff Barton, has claimed that the tougher structure of A-Levels this year and the increased importance of end-of-year exams have had a negative impact on the 'mental health and wellbeing of a proportion of young people and teachers'.

The government's introduction of a new syllabus this year has naturally come with risks. Teachers have been unsure of what to expect from the content of exams and many pupils have felt at a disadvantage in comparison to past year groups who had benefited from less emphasis being placed on their end of year exams. Therefore, these education reforms have left both students and teachers suffering from increased pressure, especially around the summer examination period.

Whilst, the nation can be pleased that educational achievement has remained stable for another year, the government will surely have to address the rising toll A-Levels are taking on the mental health and wellbeing of sixth-formers across England and Wales.