A former Tory MP has come in for stern criticism after branding the awarding of seven A*s at A-level as “meaningless”.
Louise Mensch made the remarks on the website Twitter following an exchange with users, including John Prescott, about the value of today’s A-levels.
According to her website, the online conversation was sparked by the news that 18-year-old Bangor student Alastair Herron, who got seven A*s, failed to get into Oxford University.
Yesterday, Ms Mensch posted: “Completely shocked to read that more than 25% of all A levels are A or A* graded. Makes 7 A* meaningless. How can you distinguish? 1 in 4.”
She was apparently making reference to the fact that overall across the England, Wales and Northern Ireland combined, 26.3 per cent of the grades awarded this year were As or A*s. In an earlier comment she did not “deny his evident high intelligence” but said “he may not have had the specific type of intelligence required for Oxford”.
Some online users were supportive of Ms Mensch while others responded critically, with one saying their children’s friends were “sick of being denigrated constantly” about A-level results.
But the principal of the Royal Belfast Academical Institution, where Alastair studied, was frank in her rebuttal. Janet Williamson called it “deeply insulting to the pupils and the teachers”.
Miss Williamson said: “It is incredibly rare for any young person to be able to manage seven A-levels, let alone achieve seven A*s, and she completely misunderstands what’s involved in achieving at that level.”
She added: “I’d challenge her to meet Alastair, or with the teachers of RBAI, in order to understand more fully what’s involved.”
Alastair Herron will attend Stanford in the USA, where he is expected to study chemistry.