Ealing Students Getting First Choice University Despite Exam Chaos
Majority of A Level candidates at local schools going to their top pick
It has been an anxious time for Ealing's A level students awaiting their results this year. With the cancellation of exams and much discussion about predicted grades, rank orders and algorithms, sixth formers have felt uniquely powerless over their fate.
At St Benedict's most of the year group are destined for their first-choice university, despite the complexities of this summer's exam results process.
The Headmaster of St Benedict’s, Andrew Johnson, said, “This is no more than these students deserve: had the exams taken place, we were fully expecting this Upper Sixth group to achieve the school’s best ever A level results.
“While the outcome has been positive for the vast majority of our students, the level of stress, complexity and uncertainty in this process has made it a very difficult time for them. I am grateful to them, their parents and their teachers for the patience and forbearance they have shown throughout. I am relieved therefore that the government has already indicated that formal exams will be reinstated for next summer’s GCSEs and A levels.”
The results overall at St Benedict’s this year are higher than ever before, with 49.3% of all grades at A*-A and 80.7% of all grades at A*-B.
St Benedict’s has provided support for students’ mental health throughout lockdown, with tutors offering careful and thoughtful guidance to their tutees online. Following the government’s decision to cancel A level exams, St Benedict’s offered a programme of pre-university study to all its year 13 students, with 1-1 tutorials and seminars, preparing them for their chosen undergraduate courses.
A-level students at Notting Hill & Ealing High School were invited to school on results day, albeit in a socially distanced manner, to receive their calculated grades after what has been an unusual end to their secondary education. They delivered a strong set of results, with a quarter of overall grades awarded A*s.
Between them, the students will be pursuing a wide range of subjects including Modern Languages and Geography at Cambridge, Physics at Oxford, English literature at the University of Edinburgh, Law at the University of Nottingham, Veterinary Sciences at Bristol University, History, Biosciences and Mathematics at Durham University, Drama at Exeter University, Biomedical Sciences at Bath University. All Oxbridge offer holders secured their places, and 21 girls will go on to study courses related to STEM.
Commenting on this year’s outcomes, Matthew Shoults, Headmaster at NHEHS said, “I have been so impressed by the girls’ resilience in handling the unprecedented circumstances which have impacted their studies. Among all the headlines about the grading process, our wonderful students are at the heart of the school, and we are recognising their hard work, enthusiasm and ambition. We are celebrating today two years of hard work while also looking forward to their bright futures. They deserve their successes today”.
Head Girl, Immi, who will be heading to the University of Cambridge to read Geography said, “It’s definitely been a challenging end to our time at NHEHS. Lockdown threw such an awkward spanner in the works but our teachers were amazing and hugely supportive and I’m now just so relieved, delighted and elated that it has all worked out and we can look forward to our exciting next stage”.
At St Augustine’s Priory A* - A was achieved in 63% of grades overall and A* - B in 88% of grades with many departments, including Modern Languages, scoring A* - A across the board. Other subjects achieving only A or A* are Physics, Economics, Fine Art, Geography, Classical Greek and Classical Civilisation. In addition, girls achieved 100% grade As in AS Further Maths – the highest grade achievable in this subject.
The pupils are now going on to universities which include Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial College, Durham, Bristol and Plymouth, to study a wide variety of subjects including Medicine, English Literature, French and Modern and Medieval Languages.
The Headteacher, Mrs Sarah Raffray, commented, ‘Our girls leave here secure in the knowledge that because we know them so very well they will never be regarded as part of any statistical process. We are proud of their achievements and simply can’t wait to see what they do next. St Augustine’s girls are extraordinary human beings. This year many set off for medical school. You’d be delighted to have one of them as your GP or surgeon.’
This year’s results nationally looks set to be controversial despite a increase in A* and A grades with headteachers describing some lowered grades as "unfair and unfathomable".
In England, 36% of entries had a lower grade than teachers predicted with 3% were down by two grades with 2% of grades being increased. Schools sent predictions to exam boards along with a ranking of pupils by ability.
Geoff Barton, leader of the ASCL head teachers' union said, "While there has been an overall increase in top grades, we are very concerned that this disguises a great deal of volatility among the results at school and student level," said Mr Barton.
"We have received heart-breaking feedback from school leaders about grades being pulled down in a way that they feel to be utterly unfair and unfathomable. They are extremely concerned about the detrimental impact on their students."
The Sixth Form Colleges Association has called the system for calculating A-level grades, "flawed and unreliable" after almost all colleges said grades were lower or much lower than predicted.
For students hoping for university places, it is expected to be relatively easier to get places due to a sharp fall in the number of international students and UCAS say that universities are likely to be very flexible with students who have missed grades.
August 13, 2020