Education, education, education

This week saw some wonderful results for all our hard-working students. I cannot understand why some commentators want to talk them down – this envy and churlishness is unbecoming. I think the figures are marvellous and a reason to celebrate. I am heartened as sometimes all you hear is about how bad our youth are – clearly only true for a minority.

Here are some numbers that make for very pleasant reading:

• The UK 2009 A Level and AS results (covering England, Wales and Northern Ireland) show:

o There was a 2.3% increase in entries at A Level (846,977 compared to 827,737 in 2008) and 4.3% at AS Level (1,177,018 compared to 1,128,150 in 2008) this year

o A huge rise (12.2%) in the numbers taking mathematics A Levels, 72,475 entries compared to 64,593 in 2008.

o Further maths was also up by 15.2% to 10,473 (compared to 9,091 in 2008). At AS Level Further Maths has gone up 47.2% to 13,164 (compared to 8,945 in 2008.)

o In sciences – biology entrance was down 0.9%, chemistry up 1.9% and physics up 4.8% in 2008.

o English was the most popular A Level, with 91,815 (10.8% of candidates) taking it. This was followed by maths (72,475 or 8.5%) and biology (56,010 or 6.6%)

o A rise in the overall pass rate (A-E) from 97.2% in 2008 to 97.5% at A Level this year.

o At AS Level, the pass rate has dropped slightly from 88.2% to 88.1%

o A rise in the proportion of A grades awarded at A Level from 25.9% in 2008 to 26.7% this year.

• The latest results mean that there has been a 9.9 percentage point rise in the pass rate at A Level since 1997 (from 87.6% to 97.5%).