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Young people need our kindness – and a coherent exam system

The teenage years are difficult enough without being subject to societal opprobrium and swept up in controversies over qualifications

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Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

It’s an admirably defiant statement – but also one of the biggest lies told to children. Words can wound, and the scar tissue formed by a cruel remark may continue to niggle decades later. Just ask anyone who had the misfortune in their formative years to be on the receiving end of a spiteful remark from a teacher: they will shudder at the memory.

Teenagers are well used to disdain from their elders. Every generation finds itself at the centre of a moral panic, from the mods and the rockers, to punks, to followers of drill ...

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