Express & Star

Star comment: Time to congratulate those collecting GCSE results

Thousands are students are today facing the dreaded moment where exam results are revealed. Last week it was A-levels, today it’s GCSEs.


For many, the maths and English results will be key. Students will know that a pass in both is essential if they want to progress with studies and into work.

Any adult who has cast an eye over a maths GCSE paper will have winced at just how difficult it has become. Achieving a grade 4 pass is no mean feat and the reality is that the majority of the maths learned is unlikely to be used again in real life.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), is calling for a new literacy and numeracy qualification to be developed that “does not represent a cliff-edge over which many must fall”.

His idea is worth exploring. He calls for a “certificate of proficiency” in literacy and numeracy – an indication that an individual has a working knowledge of both subjects that will show they have a working knowledge that will get them by in most areas of study and work. GCSEs would then demonstrate “mastery in the discipline” rather than acting as a proxy for literacy and numeracy.

GCSEs are, of course, very important. But many people are being barred from jobs they would be perfectly efficient at simply because they never reached their pass mark in maths or English. A new base level test in both subjects may be a way forward and worth exploring.

In the meantime, we should congratulate those who have worked so hard. For those who have fallen short, don’t panic and seek advice.


While many young people are today awaiting the fruits of their labours at GCSE, an older generation is continuing to learn.

Research released today suggests taking an adult education class could help lower your risk of developing dementia. Middle-aged and senior citizens in adult education have a 19 per cent reduced chance of developing the condition within five years, a new study suggests.

Much of this is common sense. Researchers say that those who continue to stretch their minds keep up their ‘fluid intelligence’. There is also the chance to broaden your horizons, not just intellectually but by meeting new people, visiting new places.

There are so many options in our area for us all to take up a new challenge – whether it by philosophy or floristry. It might be worth looking into simply for fun, but also to exercise that all important grey matter.