This has been an extremely anxious time for students, parents and staff; it was not clear where this was going to land. The results awarded to Oaklands Sixth Form College students were very pleasing.
Mr Quinn, Headteacher, reported: “Although the A Level courses were truncated by school closure, the outcomes are a credit to their hard work and that of our very talented and committed teachers. The school continues to justify its strong reputation at Advanced Level. It is fantastic to see the progress made by many of our students from entry into Year 7 through to Year 13.The high grade profile achieved by our students will mean that the majority should gain entry to the university of their choice. There are a number of notable successes with students achieving Oxbridge places, obtaining the necessary grades to do medicine and other high profile degree and apprentice courses. This is to be celebrated.”
However this is not the full story. Similar to many other schools and colleges a significant number of students have had the teacher assessment downgraded as a result of a statistical algorithm, some as many as five grades across their courses. Oaklands A Level results were on an upward trajectory and this appears to have been ignored.
Before the results were published the school began to get a got a sense that something was amiss, first the fiasco in Scotland. Then last week, the school received emails from two exam boards questioning the nature of certain grades, then at the eleventh hour, all schools heard from the Government that they are introducing the triple-lock, giving students an opportunity to appeal against the exam board calculated grades by using mock exam performance.
Rather than this give students any assurance, Mr Quinn went on to say: “ Despite staff rigorously following the Dfe guidance this was always going to be an flawed system. Our A level trajectory over the last couple of years has been positive and we had a hunch this would not be mirrored across all results. The last minute announcement has increased the degree of uncertainty. Mock exams are a diagnostic or motivational tool not necessarily indicative of a student’s performance at the end of the course. Further, in many schools, students will not have taken mocks by the time that schools were closed in March.
At the heart of this there are individuals who have pinned their hopes on grades for university or apprenticeships. The application of a statistical algorithm ignores this. Gavin Willamson, Education Secretary, is on record saying: “Every young person waiting for their results wants to know they’ve been treated fairly.” Knowing what we know, many students believe this is not the case; they have lost faith in the process promoted by the government.
We should not lose sight of the success for many students, it is a pity that for some students today should have been a day of celebration and has been marred by future uncertainty and a system that has clearly disadvantaged some youngsters. We will put all our efforts into helping every student navigate a route through this and onto their next step”.
Schools and now students have a right to appeal. The information from JCQ talks about the appeal process taking up to 42 days. If this remains, the UCAS application door is likely to have shut and we will be back into the retake season.