This year, more than ever, schools can make all the difference on results day

Last week we experienced the extraordinary turmoil around A Level results. In the face of the downgrading debacle, students now have the option to use the grades provided by teachers. Unfortunately that Government announcement came too late for many to take up university places this year.

Whether through inherent biases in the system, incompetency in those in charge of the process, or a mixture of both, the awarding of grades in a year when exams were not taken has become a farce. But while A level students, and their aspirations for their educational future have been caught in the middle of that farce, the same need not be true for GCSE students.

For most students, progression from GCSEs will be to sixth forms and FE colleges. It’s those sixth forms and colleges that have the power to make a difference on results day, despite the controversies that have led up to it.

At the time of writing I’m not exactly sure what grades year 11 (including my own son) will be getting on Thursday – those from Ofqual’s algorithm? the CAGs? The best of the two, or perhaps one this week and the other next? does anybody know?!*

Whatever is in those envelopes, school staff will know the grades that they gave students and are in the position to offer them their next educational opportunity. For GCSEs, this means that it’s schools that are in the position to tackle each of the iniquities – of disadvantage, school type, geography, and background- that arose for the A Level results. whatever the failures of the system set up to deliver grades this year, those failures don’t have to impact on the class of 2020.

It’s been an extraordinary year. Now, more than ever, students deserve access to the extraordinary individual futures that sixth form and college education can provide. Some schools have already announced their intention to provide this, I hope all will follow.

*Today (Wednesday 19/8/20) My son’s school notified parents that they would be emailing the highest grade for each subject out of the CAG and algorithm-generated grade.

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