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Top grade relief for lecturer

A-level results day brought a special sigh of relief this year from one English language candidate, who has emerged with one of the best results in the country.

Rachel Wood dropped only 25 marks out of 600 in the exam set by the AQA board. This, though, is perhaps not surprising, as Mrs Wood is 53 and has been teaching the subject for the past eight years.

Mrs Wood, a lecturer at Stratford-upon-Avon College, decided to brave the exam to see what her students were up against, and whether exam standards were slipping.

She revised, took AS-level papers this January, completed coursework and then took her A2 modules in June.

Despite her A-grade performance, she thinks the exam was actually tougher than the English literature A-level she took, gaining a grade D, in 1968.

Then, she had to write three questions in three hours. In one paper this time, she had to write two essays in an hour and a half. Time management was much tougher, and the questions more specific in their demands on students, she said.

Mrs Wood, who attended a grammar school, said results had improved nationally because teaching was getting better.

"There was some appalling teaching around in my day. I was determined, when I came into the profession, to teach a damn sight better than I was taught."

Mrs Wood plans to use her insight to help improve her pupils' exam technique. Mrs Wood, who wrote of her exam experience in The TES last month, was presented with further evidence of the effectiveness of her teaching this year. Jennifer Pick, one of her students, beat her in two modules on her way to a grade A.

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