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August Blog

By 21st August 2020October 7th, 2022News

Like many Headteachers, I am still trying to get my head around the pandemonium of the last seven days.  If you wrote it as a script, it would not look out of place in pantomime. “Oh no, we will not use centre assessed grades, Oh yes, we will”.  The move to centre assessed grades was always going to be a curate’s egg; this is now being played out in university admissions.  However, on balance it has put individual students back in the centre of the assessment process and that is no bad thing.


Whilst youngsters should not be defined by exam outcomes, we know that they give students choice, so schools have moral and ethical responsibility to ensure youngsters have the best possible education, and this includes outcomes in exams. Whilst this should not be a determining factor, league tables also come in to this arena: great exam results are good for students and the school status.


This year’s mayhem has also opened the debate about what we mean by exams, assessment, standards and regulation.  The ‘tinkering’ with grades by Ofqual, the exam regulator, is nothing new.  Every year many grade boundaries move, which means a student on the cusp of one grade may fall into the other just because of the movement of the grade mark.  Ofqual has a responsibility to keep the standard of exams roughly the same, however this is not a precise science.  As an exam specification matures, schools get better at teaching it; there are more past papers, examiners’ reports give us an insight into how to answer questions and schools train staff to become exam markers. A school’s ability to prepare a student for an exam improves and this then feeds into outcomes. If the regulator wants to stop grade inflation, then grade boundaries have to be altered, this is the debate we now need to have.


I want to finish this blog by returning back to our Year 11 and Year 13 students. Despite everything that could have reasonably been done whilst youngsters were on remote, this has not been the greatest year in their educational career. Whatever way you slice this, they have lost out – be that the proms, the goodbyes to teachers or that final character building ‘slog’ preparing for exams that gives you the resilience when exams come their way again.


For students returning to Year 12, I am determined to give them the best possible offer, despite the challenges of opening the school and making it COVID ready. Oaklands Sixth formers will receive 100% face-to-face contact in lessons, they deserve nothing less.

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