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Time for a better system of clearing, say school leaders

rows of seats in a lecture theatre

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has called for a radical overhaul of the way university places are awarded. 

On the eve of the release of A level results, the association acknowledges the hard work and anticipated achievements of students and their teachers this year. However, NAHT general secretary, Russell Hobby, said we should remember students who will be caught up in the annual scramble for places after having either exceeded or failed to meet predicted grades.

The time had now come, he said, to think seriously about rescheduling university applications until after A level results are known.

Mr Hobby said: “As our young people celebrate the exam successes that mean so much for their future choices, we should recognise that the current system of predictions, quotas and clearing has reached the end of its life. There are many obstacles to reform, but we must make the system fits the needs of people rather than the other way round.

“It makes more sense to apply for universities with a clear set of grades under your belt. The current system of applications based on predictions neglects those who lack confidence and those who do unexpectedly well, and so risks reinforcing expectations. We cannot afford such an important set of decisions to be based on guesswork. The future for young people leaving school has rarely been so uncertain; let's not add to their challenges with an outmoded system.

“We’d need to rethink the timing of A Levels and university entry, and we’d need the technology and the will to do it, but it can and should be done.”



Page Published: 15/08/2012