We know that this year group was set to have a brilliant year and predicted to achieve better than any previous cohort; it is so disappointing that they were not able to do just that by sitting their exams and proving this beyond any doubt. In putting together Centre Assessment Grades (CAGs) and rank orders, staff were well aware of how well we expected this year group to perform and this was reflected in the data submitted to the various exam boards.
Staff worked diligently and professionally to provide CAGs and rank orders that would do justice to our students and reflect the outcomes we felt confident in predicting for them. This process has been understandably time consuming and has included many professional conversations between colleagues before grades and rank orders were finalised and submitted to exam boards by senior leaders.
The overall picture this year for the school is in line with previous years with 25% of all grades awarded A*-A or equivalent; 50% A*-B and 70% A*-C. On one hand this is welcome but it also means that the national standardisation process has failed to take account of the strengths of this particular cohort. Our experience has been that where individual subjects have had small cohorts there has been little or no change to the CAGs submitted by the school whereas subjects with more than 6 students have experienced changes, often significant changes. In larger subject cohorts we are left with the feeling that CAGs were simply ignored with final grades being awarded based on a statistical model that considered the rank order and not the CAGs.
The late decision to include Mock Exam grades within the appeal system is bizarre but will be welcomed by a number of our students as approximately 55% of them will see an increase in at least one subject grade, assuming that the appeal system, as yet unclear, affords them this reprieve. The concern about using Mock Exams is that they are conducted in very different ways across schools. For example, some schools have 2-3 Mock Exams in Y13; some have open book Mock Exams; some have external invigilators, some don’t; some have strict exam conditions, some don’t. To suggest that these grades are somehow more relevant than the CAGs that have been submitted is an affront to schools.
We know that many of our Y13 students will be celebrating today, deservedly so, but these celebrations will also be tempered by concern for their fellow students who may have to deal with some initial disappointment. We know that they will all overcome any obstacles in their path and go on to achieve great things. We wish them well in their future careers and lives.