The week

26th August 2011 at 01:00

There was a time, not too long ago, when the weeks contained in August used to be known in the journalistic trade as Silly Season. In these simpler times, news editors up and down the land would look forward to A-level and GCSE results days as oases in the barren desert of news-less summer days; an opportunity to roll out the usual cliches about falling standards and grade inflation. Not to mention the pretty independent-school girls jumping in the air in celebration. No longer, it would seem. Silly Season is no more. With looting, the Arab Spring, earthquakes, global financial meltdown AND the Murdochs, there's been no shortage of stuff for hungry reporters to get their teeth into.

Combine this with the fact that A-level grade inflation was, well, almost not inflationary, and the result was that the usual handwringing and right-wing fuming - think Kelvin MacKenzie - was considerably less apparent than normal. As such the press turned its gaze to clearing and managed to paint a picture of complete meltdown - the level of journalistic excitement was directly comparable to the reporting of the fall of Tripoli. Only, with Gaddafi the media had more of an idea of what was really going on.

All this talk of rampant speculation allows us to neatly segue into the other A-level story of last weekend: the rise and rise of take-up of maths and physics. Why could this be? What on earth is going on? Surely this can't be good news? What is Jeremy Clarkson going to whinge about in his Sunday Times column? Presumably he was dusting down his favourite cliches about "this once great engineering nation" and Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Somehow, however, Edexcel's Ziggy Liaquat managed to bring this all back to teenagers sitting goggle-eyed in front of the box, by suggesting that the upturn was all down to Professor Brian Cox and his sexy-geek approach to televised science. Couch potatoes, eh?

Oh, and well done on those GCSE results everybody. Good work. Go pour yourself a congratulatory slurp of cava - by the time you read this the national media will probably have taken the world of education to the cleaners because of, um, grade inflation.

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