SO IT'S all over for A-Levels. The trusty old sixth form exams that defied the odds to survive transition from O-Levels to GCSEs have now failed the test of political expediency.
And rightly so, in my opinion. Kids these days don't know they're born. Up until the year I took my A-Levels in 1999, they were widely acknowledged as being the supreme measure of youthful intellect available in this country and possibly the world.
Since then, so I tell myself - and my mum agrees - all those mind-boggling essays have been replaced by a series of multiple choice questions and join the dot puzzles. It's hardly surprising that everyone's passing them.
Of course that's not true, but this is the current level of debate. The former chief inspector of schools Mike Tomlinson who, since his brief spell in that role, has had an extremely productive - and probably lucrative - career writing big chunky reports, says that A-Levels and GCSEs should be replaced by a new diploma system.
The government apparently agrees, although the Prime Minister says that A-Levels aren't being ditched, they're being "strengthened." This seems remarkably similar to his policy towards the Labour Party.
Depending on which report you read, the new diplomas will either involve more coursework or less and will simultaneously emphasise academic excellence and vocational skills.
The struggle is to find anything in any politician's speech about education that actually has any objective meaning whatsoever. In reality, the ongoing gnashing and wailing over high exam pass rates is a direct result of government policy and is solely its responsibility.
If the government says that it wants exam results to improve, schools have to make them improve. Therefore, they choose to use the examining boards that set the easiest questions and have the most favourable grade boundaries. That's capitalism.
It's logically ridiculous for the performance of politicians or the skills of young people to be measured by assessing one year's exams results against another year's unless they're doing the same exams and the grade boundaries are the same.
It's not exactly a problem of political meddling. Politicians should meddle, usefully, in public services. The problem is when politicians use young people as pawns in abstract political games that have no direct relevance to real life.
If they could stop doing that. most of the academic pontificating and new examinations systems would be unnecessary, but they can't and they won't.
ON A lighter note - blonde bombshell, TV comedian, part-time journalist and occasional MP and Tory front-bench spokesman Boris Johnson has got himself in a spot of bother by slagging off the much-maligned people of Liverpool.
According to Boris, Liverpudlians shouldn't have got so upset about the beheading of Ken Bigley and, what's more, the Hillsbrough disaster was all their own fault.
Even more bizarrely, Boris laid into the welfare culture that he and his cronies think is prevalent in Liverpool. Boris is, of course, just the man to talk about scrounging off the state.
MPs currently earn over Â£50,000 per year. Okay, that's considerably less that most Tories - and many Labour MPs - would earn if they gave up politics and concentrated on exploiting low-paid workers on behalf of evil capitalists, but it's still a lot more than most of us earn in our full-time jobs.
Boris, though, doesn't even see being an MP as his part-time job. He's got the job as an MP and front-bench spokesman, the job as the editor of the Spectator and then there's his TV comedy work, freelance journalism and a budding career as a novelist.
Working people who have the misfortune to become unemployed are now subjected to all manner of ridiculous demands in order to continue to receive their limited state benefits.
Is it too much to ask that people fortunate enough to be unemployed as opposition MPs at least pretend that they're vaguely interested in doing the job that they're paid to do?
It's time to stamp out scrounging. It's time to crack down on those charlatans who take public money under false pretences. Let's start with the Tory front bench.