DO more passes at GCSE mean better education? Are schools that do not reach a certain percentage of passes failing?

I feel that we need to question the assumptions of the league table culture.

Examination results are important, but we devalue education by equating it with recitation of exam passes and grades.

When I went to college to train as a teacher many of my fellow students had eight or nine ‘O’ levels.

In those days only about 25% of the population took the exam. Other 16- year-olds went out to work.

Today we often ask almost the whole range of pupils to take 11 or 12 GCSE, plus the coursework!

To do this conscientiously cuts down on their time to belong to Scouts, youth clubs and choirs, or even just hang out with their friends.

I was a corporal in the Air Training Corps. Going to camp, learning to parade, having responsibility for other cadets and meeting serving airmen taught me more than passing another couple of ‘O’ levels.

Yet we count up the points from each exam and use them to point to ‘rising standards’.

We need a broader view of what education is.

The academic syllabus suited me as a child, but it doesn’t suit everyone. We are not all academics.

I feel the emphasis on exam success turns many young people off and even makes some feel like failures.

Half the population does not attain five A-C passes.

In some cases this leads people, when they are adults, to be cynical about school and not give their children the same support as those parents who have gained from their schooling.

People will feel positive about their education if it has given them a sense of accomplishment, not just high grades.

The truth is that we all have different skills and sometimes these don’t manifest themselves until later in life.

Does anyone really believe that standards can increase indefinitely?

OFSTED, does apparently.

‘Satisfactory’, according to them, is no longer good enough. A school has to be ‘driving up standards’.

By and large, things have improved in the past 40 years and we must always be looking for improvements, but there is a saying that the best is the enemy of the good.

In other words, striving to reach too far can damage what is working well.

The truth might be that schools with lower exam scores are doing well with the people in their care.

The ones who are failing might be those who mistake the measurements for the reality.

I. STEVENSON North Petherton.