So we’re all geniuses now?

Amid all the hyperbole about YET ANOTHER year of improved “A” Level results how did Coronation Street get it so wrong?

I’m referring to Toyah Battersby of course and her fictional three E grade “A” Levels. Now come on, scriptwriters! Surely we’re not expected to believe that! OK, she’s a Battersby but as the brightest one out of an admittedly low-wattage family, even Toyah should have been able to scrape a couple of C’s and a D.

Under the new system much counts on “continual assessment” and students who get a low grade in a module the first time can retake it until they get a grade they like. Now, surely Toyah would have had some idea already if she had been getting E grades for the past two years?

The other reason this story doesn’t wash is the fact that prior to this sudden shock result the writers had gone out of their way to show how much work Toyah was putting into her studies: extra tuition with Ken Barlow; refusing to go out on the razz with Spider when she needed to revise; turning down his offer to travel round India. How can this woman who we have been led to believe is a reasonably able and very striving student completely unexpectedly find herself landed with three E’s?

Old fogeys (like me) may have received horrible brown envelopes containing shock results because back in those days (yeah, get out the violin, why don’t you?) the exams were based entirely on your performance on one day and you did wait for months with baited breath and chewed fingernails, with very little idea whether you would be jumping for joy or sobbing with sorrow.

After nearly 20 years of continually improving “A” Level results, we must all know by now that anyone capable of completing “The Sun” crossword can get 12 GCSEs and 5 “A” Levels (especially if including the incredibly helpful quantity-boosting Media Studies and General Studies) and land a place at any common-or-garden redbrick uni or ex-polytechnic. (And good luck to them, for what it’s worth.)

If we have to swallow the myth that “standards are as high as ever” then we must by now be a generation with an average IQ of 130 – but that ain’t so. (And the number of graduates I meet who don’t know how to spell “separate” and “desperate” or the meaning of words such as “serendipity” and “tacit” is mind-bogglingly shocking.)

Indeed, an education spokesman even admitted that “A” Levels may become an exam nobody can fail and that “we aim to test what they know, not what they don’t know”. Oh hallelujah! Now if only this was applied to real life as well, we’d all be up the swannie: the “A-Level-certified” electrician who you book might well know that Green is neutral, but failed part of the exam about the purpose and function of the Brown wire!!!