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Why GCSEs still mean something

I read the article by teenager Matthew Holehouse with the greatest sympathy ("Even if I get 12 A*s will anyone care?", TES, August 27).

Anyone who is a veteran of the examinations process, personally, professionally, or parentally, knows the emotional rollercoaster of intense preparation, performance, the long wait during the "strange summer", and the tumult of results day.

It cannot help today's students that the debates around educational change are so loud or so predictable (standards are falling; grades are devalued).

It may well be that by 2010, neither GCSEs nor A-levels will exist in their current form. No wonder then that Matthew wonders if it is all worth it.

However, a word of encouragement: pupils can be forgiven for beginning to believe that the purpose of so much preparation is solely the attainment of as many top grades as possible.

Not so. The purpose of preparation is to become prepared. For further education, training, experience of life.

The hours spent are now a part of you, the experience of success will generate greater confidence as well as competence.

Perhaps no one will ever ask after your GCSE results again (though many universities are interested in them). But you did it.

Sandra Hutchinson

46 Delaval Chester-le-Street

County Durham

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