Victoria Summerley: Help! The A-level results are about to hit us

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The Independent Online

If you're reading this over breakfast, spare a thought for my household, which is about to be hit by a vast tremor. Any minute, the cats will scamper for cover, and my son, with all the superiority of the newly graduated, will retreat to the safety of his headphones, nose firmly buried in a copy of i.

This morning, my daughter gets her A-level results and the magnitude of the tremor depends on three vital initials – A, B and B. That's the minimum she needs to read music at Bristol in October.

For the past few weeks, since school broke up, we've been living in a sort of phoney summer. Holidays, outings and friends come and go, but on the horizon, there is always the shadow of results day.

Naturally, I hope she will do well – do even better than she needs to do – but I dare not say so. If she doesn't get her grades, I want to tell her, it's not the end of the world. But I dare not say so. You don't get to be the mother of an 18-year-old who has just done A-levels without learning when to keep your trap shut.

I feel sorry for this summer's A-level candidates. A couple of weeks ago, the Scottish Higher results were announced, showing an increase in the pass rate of 7 per cent. This was attributed by the Scottish Qualifications Authority to hard work on the part of the students – and quite right too.

If today's A-level results show an improved pass rate, some idiot will start moaning about how they've been dumbed down. A quick soundbite on the Today programme, and all the achievements of the Class of 2012 will be swept aside. (Have you ever noticed that those who govern us have a somewhat variable definition of "improvement"? Applied to A-levels, it means "getting too easy". Applied to the transport system, it means higher fares and disruption.)

For these kids, such discussions are an irrelevance. They don't have the luxury of sitting around on their backsides discussing the future of education. All that matters is that they get the right grades.

Without decent grades, they won't get on to their chosen degree course. And without a good degree (hell, even with a good degree), they face a tough battle to find a job once they graduate. Yet the majority still manage to be optimistic; to aim high, as if no one had ever heard of the word "austerity".

So let's applaud them today for their hard work, and the way that they have really started to grow up during this past year (despite the fact that they still haven't got their heads around the concept of Bringing The Mugs Back Downstairs or Hanging Up Towels).

And whatever my own A-level candidate's results might be, there is one thing that will never change. She will always be the best daughter in the world.

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