Another year, another A-level results day. But this time there was something different: the new A*. The Observer warned on its front page that the "lion's share" of the top grades would go to privately educated pupils, who would get three times as many as those at state schools. But as a Hackney school governor and the blog The Truth About Our Schools quickly noted, the headline may have given some readers the wrong impression. The same prediction figures indicated that 66 per cent of A*s would go to state schools, and 34 per cent to the independents. In any case, we feel sorry for the three teenagers set triple A* offers by Cambridge.
A cheery part of results season is when adults sit the exams themselves and suddenly realise A-levels are not so dumbed-down after all. Credit to Viv Groskop of The Guardian, who took the full English literature exam and found the understanding required was "reassuringly sophisticated". Over on Radio 4, the theatre director Trevor Nunn sat the Shakespeare paper. Despite having directed Hamlet, he only received a B for an essay about the prince's relationship with his mother, grumbling afterwards that the topic was "a peripheral notion in the bigger scheme of the play".
Concerns grew about the squeeze on university places, with a Times poll indicating there would be record levels of competition, with seven candidates fighting for each remaining university spot. David Willetts, universities minister, acknowledged it would be "very tough" and that the Government would work hard to help those affected. That's the same David Willetts who previously criticised moves to raise the numbers going into higher education, saying the target was "artificial".
Trying to stop parents who plonk their 4x4s by the school gates, ignoring the jagged yellow lines and child safety warnings must surely be a good thing, right? But Bedford Council was criticised for fitting a special camera to a traffic warden's car to catch the school-run miscreants. Campaign group Big Brother Watch was outraged, moaning: "This camera will be used to target mums dropping off their kids on a rainy day." Erm, yes. That's the point.