The leader of teaching union NASUWT has warned ministers against taking credit for today's A-level results.
335,000 students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland got their A and AS-level results this morning.
26.6% of A-level entries achieved the top two grades of A* and A - down from 27% last year. It is the first time in 20 years that there has been a drop in top marks.
The overall pass mark increased for the 30th consecutive year to 97.8%.
Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union, said:
“The Coalition Government can take no credit for these results which is why it takes every opportunity to imply the system is ‘dumbed down’ or lacks rigour.
“These results have been achieved by teachers who, despite pay cuts, attacks on their working conditions, slashed funding, loss of specialist support and attacks on their professional status and competence, have worked hard to do the best they can for their pupils.
“However, with the Coalition’s relentless attacks on the education service and the workforce showing no signs of abating, and almost half of teachers considering leaving the profession altogether, the year on year improvements in examination results, a feature of the last decade, may be a thing of the past.”
Ms Keates colleagues across the UK also welcomed the results.
Rex Philips, NASUWT Wales Organiser, said:
“Teachers in Wales have once again worked hard for the young people they teach and the pupils have responded with these excellent results.
“Teachers’ dedication and commitment should not, however, be taken for granted.
“The imposed four year pay freeze, job loss, excessive workload and attacks on conditions of service are taking their toll.
“Unless these are addressed seriously and quickly the service will undoubtedly suffer.”
Seamus Searson, NASUWT Northern Ireland Organiser, said:
“Young people in Northern Ireland face some of the biggest challenges in terms of youth unemployment and participation in further and higher education.
“Teachers are doing their best to ensure that all young people gain the skills and opportunities they need to realise their full potential.
“The patience of the teaching profession is exhausted. They want firm and decisive action to immediately improve their pay and working conditions.”