A-level does not equate to degree

13th October 2006 at 01:00
You report the Association of Colleges' findings that four out of 10 students believe A-levels did not prepare them for the demands of a university degree (TES, October 6). This is also a problem at the highest levels.

I coached two students this year with glittering academic achievements.

Both got A* grades in all their GCSEs and A grades in all their A-levels.

One won a scholarship from the Institute of Electrical Engineers, the other a prestigious internship in Washington DC.

The first read engineering at Cambridge, the second economics and management at Oxford. Both failed their first year and are now pursuing degrees elsewhere.

The reason? A-level maths is an insufficient preparation for study at the highest levels. The problem has become worse now that the specification has had one A2 module removed from it.

The obsession that for too long has driven education policy - league tables of A-level results - perhaps ignores a more relevant indicator: onward success at university and beyond.

Matthew Handy Director of mathematics Salinger's (tutorial services) York

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