Three Bs at A-level? Too many teenagers are in danger of being written off, say heads

'There is quite a lot of value in obtaining other grades'

Education Editor

Teenagers who gain three B grade passes at A-level are in danger of being written off as failures, headteachers are warning.

University recruitment figures today showed record numbers of students had already signed up for courses this autumn - 401,540 compared with a previous highest figure of 397,670 recorded two years ago when scores of students were trying to avoid the introduction of fees of up to £9,000 a year in 2012.

Many universities told The Independent that their numbers had been swelled by being able to expand their intake by recruiting teenagers with at least one A grade and two B's under a new government policy.

One university, Exeter, said it was recruiting 600 extra students this year as a result of a 34 per cent rise in applications.  More than half the applicants had three A grade passes or better.

Professor Janice Kay, deputy vice-chancellor, said: "This has been our best year yet for applications and we look forward to welcoming a record intake of 4,600 students in September."

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "I'm worried about seeing people with B grades being labelled as failures.

"There is quite a lot of value in obtaining other grades and I think that is really important to note."

Andrew Hall, chief executive of the AQA exam board, added that he felt the B grade at A-level was assuming far greater importance as a result of the Government's reforms.

However, Universities Minister David Willetts, said that the decision to allow universities to recruit unlimited numbers of students with ABB grade passes need not restrict the chances of those with a lower qualification.

"The ABB's only account for 120,000 places - that's roughly a third of the intake," he told The Independent. "There are still two-thirds of places left for the rest."

The latest figures from UCAS, the universities and colleges admission service, revealed that the number of students still seeking places through the clearing system was at its lowest level for four years - with 153,070 eligible to obtain places through clearing.  A further 75,710 are still awaiting confirmation of a place.

Mr Willetts said he thought that there might be fewer candidates obtaining places through clearing this year - as a result of so many students confirming places early.

At least six universities in the Russell Group - which represents 24 of the country's most research intensive higher education institutions - are not in the clearing system, having already filled up their places. They are Oxford, Cambridge, UCL, Imperial College, Bristol and the London School of Economics.

One university, Manchester, started off in clearing with 300 places available but this had been whittled down to 100 yesterday.  Those remaining were mainly in foreign languages - where there was a dearth of candidates because of yet another slump in the take-up of the subject.

Universities in the 1994 group, which represents 11 other research-based universities like Essex, Goldsmiths, University of London, Lancaster, Leicester, Loughborough and Sussex, said yesterday they still had a small number of places available for A-level candidates with high grades - but that they were being snapped up quickly.

Thousands of those eligible for clearing are still likely to be unable to find a place - as figures from last year showed only around 50,00 students entered university last autumn via the clearing system.

Meanwhile, UCAS revealed that around 40 per cent of the 3,800 callers who contacted their exams hotline on Thursday had asked careers advisers to give them details of other casreer options after receiving disappointing A-level results.  These included opting for alternative further education qualifications or trying vocational learning routes or training through employment. Others ought advice about taking a gap year.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer - Surrey - £25,000

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer - Croy...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Marketing & Social Media Executive

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a Marketing Graduate or...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer (Trainee) - City, London

£25000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A large financial services company...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Services Graduate Training Scheme

£20000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are a successful and establ...

SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future