I have been listening to the media reports on the number of GCSEs being gained by those leaving school.

I am glad they are getting good results and wish them sucess, but it seems we are creating another point at which you can be thrown on the unemployable heap. First at 11+, and now at 16+, if you do not get five adequate GCSEs.

What happens to those that are rejected?

I had only four GCSEs: maths, metalwork, woodwork and technical drawing. Today, I would not even be considered for a reasonable job or apprenticeship. It now has to be a degree or nothing to get into any profession or technical position.

Are we over-educating some children and alienating them in the process? Shouldn’t we be educating them to be more productive in industrial and work-related situations? Being confident in what you are doing is far more satisfying than struggling to keep up in something you’re not good at.

Even with my lack of education, I eventually gained my higher national certificate and became a member of the Chartered Institute of Building. I also held senior executive positions with a national contractor and became construction director of a London contractor. Would I be able to do this now? I doubt it, as I probably would not get to first base.

Somehow we must find a method of making everyone valued, no matter what level they achieve. It is an old adage in industry that there are always more chiefs than there are Indians to do the work.

Peter Whitbread