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Whiteman: Overhaul to university applications must help students and should be handled with care

Commenting on Labour’s plans to overhaul the way in which A Level students apply for university places, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“First and foremost, we must have a system which operates in the best interests of students.

“Schools and colleges are noticing an increased number of unconditional offers, based on predicted grades. Undoubtedly, removing external pressure to achieve certain grades can help some students achieve their full potential but it can equally result in young people losing focus and failing to achieve A-level grades that reflect their true ability. This can have implications for both individuals and the schools they attend, which are judged on exam performance.

“Evidence shows that the brightest disadvantaged students lose out most from the current university admissions arrangements. Post qualification application arrangements have the potential to help redress this balance by ensuring choices and decisions are informed by what has been achieved, not what is expected.

“However, whilst post-qualification applications are the norm in other countries, it would be wrong to simply pick this up and put it down in the UK, where expectations about university applications are quite different. It is important that future reform to university admissions should help not hinder students from all backgrounds find the right course at the right university.”

Press and Media contacts:

Steven George
NAHT Head of Press and Media
01444 472886
07970 907730

Rose Tremlett 
Senior Press Officer 
07545 354363

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