A-level disappointment, Salman Rushdie attack and Channel migrant crisis fired up Telegraph readers

·6-min read
Pupils with their A-level results at Norwich School, Norwich. Picture date: Thursday August 18, 2022. - Joe Giddens/PA
Pupils with their A-level results at Norwich School, Norwich. Picture date: Thursday August 18, 2022. - Joe Giddens/PA

A warning that A-level pupils should brace for disappointment, the shocking attack on author Sir Salman Rushdie in New York and the Royal Navy backing out of Channel migrant patrols riled up Telegraph readers this week.

Below we showcase some of the most eagerly discussed talking points from Telegraph readers across our comments sections, Letters pages and the Front Page newsletter. You can join the discussion below.

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A-level disappointment

Prior to the announcement of A-Level results on Thursday, the higher education watchdog warned pupils that they should be prepared for “disappointment” after exam boards were ordered to crackdown on spiralling grade inflation.

Students from the “most advantaged” areas faced added adversity as The Telegraph found they would be the least likely to receive university offers, in an effort to put disadvantaged pupils first. Readers sympathised with Allison Pearson's argument surrounding the unfair fight for university places, while others offered their advice to pupils who do not achieve their desired grades.

@Paul McDaid via Front Page newsletter:

"As a teacher, the advice I always give is that there is often a place at another institution that is probably more suited to that student. There is always another opportunity next year via reapplication or retakes, and that there are fantastic opportunities in the world of work via apprenticeship schemes. They are not ready to hear it, but it can be the catalyst they need to drive them forward."

@Eric Blood:

"When my son applied to a Russell Group university, he was asked whether either of his parents had been to university. Here are the facts of our case which will have never been factored into his rejection, despite his 2A* and 2As.

"His paternal grandfather was a miner who left school at 14. His maternal grandmother was a single mother. Each wanted their children to have a better life than they had, so encouraged us to work hard at (state) school, which we did.

"Owing to inspirational teachers, my wife and I went on to top universities. We continued to work hard and made our parents proud that we had ‘done better than they had.’

"So we have now ‘damaged’ our son's acceptability in this world of artificial social engineering."

@Ann de la Grange Sury, Bath via Front Page newsletter:

"In 1983, my son received his A level results that precluded him from studying languages. We suggested he had two options: to retake or to choose another degree that would accept him.

"He chose to disregard the advice and got a job with a small insurance broker.

"He is now the proud owner of a very successful broking business in the City, having had experience working all around the world.

"Therefore, not gaining a place at university probably did him a favour, as many firms prefer to train a young person who is keen but without a degree."

@Gregory Shenkman, London:

"SIR – The folly of Britain’s myopic drive for diversity and equality is well illustrated by the discrimination against hard-working, high-achieving, middle-class pupils in favour of disadvantaged students and those from overseas.

"Excellence should be the sole criterion for admission to university. By ignoring this and favouring foreign applicants, in particular, our top universities betray their function: to bring on Britain’s best to become tomorrow’s leaders.

"Disadvantaged students should be judged on their exam performance, like everybody else. If they are not, the exam system loses legitimacy.

"Picking winners on social or economic grounds is a very poor idea. It does not lead to a socialist nirvana – but, like all forms of positive discrimination, will simply lower the bar. In a competitive world, Britain’s elites must be drawn from the best performers, not at the whim of some Left-wing don."

Aftermath of Salman Rushdie attack

Readers joined with columnists Tom Harris, Simon Heffer and Nick Timothy in condemning the shocking attack on author Sir Salman Rishdie on stage at an event in New York, with many calling it an attack on liberal society itself.

@SJ XT:

“The protections for free speech are currently inadequate. The principle needs underlining that everyone is free to argue for their own beliefs, but not to the point that they can seek to deny that same right to others whose views they disagree with. That is what freedom of speech means. Not just for you, or your ‘side’, but the other side too.

“Where they seek to do so - whether by direct violence or intimidation, like with Salman Rushdie or JK Rowling, there need to be severe consequences. Both for those directly involved and who tolerate it or even encourage it.”

@Martin Henry, Good Easter, Essex: 

SIR - Most people will think the attempted murder of Sir Salman Rushdie to be the most abhorrent attack on free speech. But while it is an offence in the UK to deliberately incite racial hatred, universities and other institutions have for some time been intolerant of views that conflict with their own, and many writers and performers have been ‘cancelled’ as a result.

“I hope this horrific attack will focus our attention on the importance of a greater tolerance of free speech.”

Crisis in the Channel

Following the Telegraph’s disclosure that the Royal Navy plans to withdraw from patrolling the Channel to combat illegal migrants, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss responded by vowing to keep the Royal Navy in charge of the role and using “every tool at my disposal” to combat small boats. Readers shared Nigel Farage’s frustrations of Britain’s inability to get a grip on the situation and questioned the effectiveness of the scheme as a deterrent.

@Peter Higgins, Kent: 

"SIR – I am a former director of the UK Immigration Service. There have been claims that the Navy withdrawing its ships from Channel migrant patrols will send the wrong message to the traffickers, but disagree. With a record number of 20,000 illegal immigrants already having arrived this year – many of whom have been intercepted in mid-Channel and then ‘taxied’ to Britain – what evidence is there to suggest that these additional naval vessels have had either a deterrent or preventive effect?

"The presence of more vessels could actually have had the opposite effect: migrants would have known that there was an even better chance of being picked up and given a safe onward journey to Britain, and been well aware that they would not be forced to return to France."

@John Nixon:

"The Royal Navy's principal role is to prevent sea-borne invasions of the UK, not to act as ferry service from just beyond mid-Channel to the Kent coast. Unless and until they do the task they are paid and expected to do there will be no end.

"But the main strategy should be prevention by not allowing illegal entry in the first place, and a removal of any welfare support for those who enter the country without prior agreement."

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