A-level results: Do exams teach students life skills needed for work?

A-level results: Do exams teach students life skills needed for work?

Thursday, August 16, 2018

A-levels may not be teaching students the skills they need to thrive in the workplace, an education journalist says.

Sian Griffiths, education editor at the Times, joined Julia Hartley-Brewer on the talkRADIO breakfast show to discuss A-levels, which thousands of students are collecting their results for today.

Ucas data shows 411,860 students have taken up university places so far, down one per cent on the same point last year.

“One of the big things that’s going on is that there’s a big concern among inspectors that schools are teaching to the test, they’re obsessed with exam results and GCSE scores, and all those other qualities you need to thrive in life are being neglected,” said Griffiths.

“Art, music, drama, sport, all those things that teach you how to work in teams, how to follow your passions if you’re not very academic, they’re being neglected in our schools, and the worry is we’re turning out kids who yes, can regurgitate a mark scheme, can they actually cope in a workplace?”


'Lacking resilience'

A report published last year by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) chimed with Griffiths’ comments, although it looked at new graduates rather than A-level students.

It said that a third of the graduate employers surveyed thought graduates lacked resilience and self-management skills.

The Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) also spoke to 174 companies last year about the workplace skills of new graduates.

The chief executive of the AGR, Stephen Isherwood, said graduates lacked “a fundamental understanding” of the working world, and needed to improve on their “ability to work with people and get things done when things go wrong".

Nevertheless, ONS data shows that graduates are more likely to be employed than non-graduates.