Once a mark of academic excellence, which only the brightest schoolkids took at the age of 18 - having obtained suitable grades at 0-Level. The A-Level has been so devalued over the past quarter-century, and particularly over the past few years, that it bears a strange resemblance to the Turkish lira - overvalued, worthless, and inflating by the day. Now, every bugger is expected to take a shed-load of them, and to pass them all.
This has been achieved largely by government meddling: exams have become easier due to political pressure, marking has become less strict, the syllabus has been reduced and thinking virtually eliminated. Even teachers are admitting that they are spoon-feeding answers to students to maximise their pass rate because they have targets to reach.
A-Level results have now been getting better for twenty-four years in a row, and we are expected to believe that this is due to kids working harder (they are not), teaching methods getting better (they are not), and due to kids getting cleverer (they are not) - and is absolutely nothing to do with grade inflation. To suggest this receives an immediate attack that you are downplaying the achievement of these kids and would like to see a return to the 1950s - which, education wise, would certainly not be a bad idea at all!
Let's take an example: papers are moderated such that a certain proportion achieve grade A, B, C, etc. The only way that a higher proportion of students achieve grade A is if someone is fiddling with the moderation, or if the papers have become so easy that huge numbers of people achieve full or almost full marks - or, most likely, a combination of the two.
A further example. When your bending author was studying for his A-Levels and completing an ungodly number of past papers, he could judge how difficult the forthcoming paper would be by the date on the front - the older it was, the more difficult it would be. Although this was entirely subjective, it was a fail-safe method in practice.
The A grade has been devalued so much that the oh so wise celestial navigator and his entourage have decided to add an A* grade on top, since 25% of students got at least one A grade this year, which is ridiculous.
It has got to the point now that universities are pissed off that they can't tell good from excellent any more and many have started instigating their own entrance exams again. Industry is not terribly happy about it either.
But no, we must have all got it wrong: kids are working harder than ever before, are cleverer than ever before and teachers are better than ever before. And all thanks to Neue Arbeit's wise and sage educational policies. Only the celestial navigator and his inner circle know the real truth, the rest of us are just all conspiracy theory freaks.