Teacher Talk

Daniel Trump is a psychology teacher and director of the sixth form at Acland Burghley School in north London
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The Independent Online

There has been a rise in the number of students taking psychology at A-level and GCSE. What do you attribute this to?

There has been a rise in the number of students taking psychology at A-level and GCSE. What do you attribute this to?

I'd put it down to the changes bought about in the post-Thatcher, post-industrial society we live in today. People are more atomised and individualistic in their thinking. During the Sixties we saw the rise of sociology, a search for truth within the collective. Today problems are seen to stem from the self. In the Sixties people saw the way to solve their problems in challenging power structures. Today the focus is on personal change as the route to happiness, and this has led to greater interest in the workings of the self.

How do you think the big shake-ups in the Tomlinson report will affect students in the future?

The Tomlinson report will have an effect only if there is a government that has the power and will to implement it. It will have to take on the higher education institutions, many of whom will cling to the academic and vocational split. The diploma system suggested by Tomlinson will unite these areas and provide a coherent pathway.

After the furore over the pass rate in this year's A-levels, how would you reassure students that their qualifications are still valued?

The "currency" pupils leave with has not been devalued in any way. I would also say that most teachers would be able to give tangible evidence that, if anything, A-levels have become harder.

What do you make of the ground made up by boys this year?

Many students going into A-levels are waking up to the competitive nature of the outside world and are aware of the gender gap. Those who move on to A-levels are likely to try to rectify it.

Why do you think that the gap remained static at GCSEs?

It may be down to the differing average maturity rates between girls and boys. The assessment process also slightly favours girls in terms of the greater emphasis on coursework at GCSE.

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