Logo

Only best pupils will get places at top Camden sixth form as tough new A-level criteria introduced

07:00 21 August 2014

Headteacher Sam White says 'gold standard' A-levels may not be the best path for all pupils. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Headteacher Sam White says 'gold standard' A-levels may not be the best path for all pupils. Picture: Nigel Sutton

© Nigel Sutton email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

This year’s “toughest ever” A-level exams have forced Camden’s largest sixth form to tighten entry requirements and only accept the brightest students in the wake of a controversial government shake-up.

Prospective pupils at La Swap sixth form consortium, made up of four Camden state secondaries, will be pushed to achieve mostly B grades as a minimum requirement at GCSE in order to gain a place to study A-levels from 2015.

Students currently need C grades at GCSE to sit three A-levels and a mixture of B and C grades to take four.

William Ellis School headteacher Sam White said the decision was made in the face of “increasingly challenging” A-levels – a perceived result of government A-level reforms.

The headteacher, who leads the sixth form consortium alongside the heads of Parliament Hill, Acland Burghley and La Sainte Union schools, said: “We will require stiffer entry requirements. These A-levels are tougher than they have ever been.

“There’s no point getting pupils onto courses if they are going to fail because they won’t get onto the next step.”

Stricter entry requirements are already in force for September’s A-level cohort.

In previous years, a student could keep their sixth form place if they failed to get a C grade in English language or maths but from September onwards pupils will only be accepted if they meet this minimum requirement.

From next year the requirements will become tougher still and students will need to get mostly B grades at GCSE.

Mr White has made clear that pupils who achieve A and B grades will be best placed to study A-levels.

He added that the changes are a response to reforms, which will see students sit all exams at the end of a two-year course from 2015.

The consortium is to offer a wider range of alternative BTEC qualifications to plug any gap in education opportunities for young people.

“A-levels are seen as the gold standard, so pupils’ ambition may not match up with the courses they want to do, even if they are not the best courses for them,” said Mr White.

“That’s why we have to work with young people and their parents to say that it is important to be aspirational and to aim high, but it’s also important they take the right next step.”

He revealed the news on A-level results day last Thursday after the consortium reported a dip in A-level grades in line with a national decline – the first for 32 years.

The fall is thought to be a result of this year’s scrapping of January exams, which previously allowed students to re-sit papers in June before getting final results in August.

LaSwap sixth form had a four per cent fall in A* to C grades compared to last year, from 75.8 per cent to 71 per cent – although Camden as a borough defied the national decline.

At Camden’s state schools 79 per cent of A-level entries gained A* to C grades, compared with 76.5 per cent nationally.

Highgate School headteacher Adam Pettitt agreed with Mr White’s concerns that many students will not be able to cope with tougher A-levels.

He said: “The national system is supposed to facilitate all 18-year-olds, but are these pupils getting lost in the system because rigorous measures are being re-introduced? I don’t think that question is being answered.”

* For more A-level coverage see pages 6-7 and our special nine-page supplement.

Latest Hampstead & Highgate education news

Campaigners against funding cuts to schools call on parents to turn tide

Campaigners against funding cuts to schools in Haringey have called on parents to turn the tide.

Camden School for Girls student turns Oxford University rejection letter into artwork

A Camden School for Girls student has seen her rejection letter from Oxford University go viral after transforming into a work of art.

Parent-led national campaign launched in Haringey in response to school funding cuts

A parent-led national campaign is being launched in Haringey in response to school funding cuts.

Budding Portland Place School thespians perform Our Country’s Good

Budding thespians at Portland Place School took to the stage to perform the first play acted out solely by the upper school.

Zadie Smith delves into her time at Hampstead School

In our latest questions and answers instalment the author of White Teeth, Zadie Smith, looks back at attending Hampstead School between 1986 and 1993.

Highgate Primary School fitness programme backed by GB Olympic athlete Bianca Williams

A pioneering weekly fitness programme at a Highgate school involving staff, students and parents has been given the seal of approval by a Great British Olympic athlete.

Hampstead and Highgate youngsters take to stage for school nativities

Parents and schools have been hard at work preparing for this year’s round of nativity plays.

Camden, Barnet and Haringey ahead of national average in SAT results

Camden, Barnet and Haringey primary schools have beat the national average for SAT results.

Haverstock School welcomes 250 homeless guests over Christmas period

Staff and students welcoming 250 homeless guests into the school over the Christmas period believe it is their duty to reach out to isolated people in the community.

Plenty of festive fun to be had at Winter Wonderland and beyond

There’s plenty of Christmas fun to be had across London’s parks and museums as Bridget Galton wraps up warm and discovers for herself.

Weston Park School: Headteacher of popular primary absent for six months

Parents have been left in the dark as to why the headteacher of a primary school has not been at work for the past six months.

Former London Metropolitan University lecturer looking to inspire next generation of architects

A former London Metropolitan University lecturer is looking to inspire the next generation of architects with a series of early years workshops in Islington.

Hasti Razaghi’s guide to starting life at London Metropolitan University

Starting university is something new, big and exciting, whether you are moving to a new city or another country.

Lady of Muswell Catholic Primary School students discuss Britain’s treatment of refugees

Welcome, hope and tolerance have been the three key messages for students learning about refugees.

Future bright for Archer Academy and Woodhouse College as schools announce partnership

A pair of Barnet schools believe the future is bright after announcing a “strategic partnership” on Monday.

BBC presenter Fiona Bruce guest of honour at South Hampstead School’s 140th anniversary

BBC presenter Fiona Bruce was the guest of honour at South Hampstead High School’s 140th anniversary celebratory dinner.

Fortismere School and Highgate Primary School lead way with Mandarin lessons

A Muswell Hill school is one of the first in the country to be selected by the government to try and fast track students towards being fluent in Mandarin Chinese by 2020.

University College School Hampstead student sets sights on Olympic Games sailing place

A teenage sailing star has the Olympic Games in his sights after being selected for the Royal Yachting Association UK 420 youth squad.

Alexandra Wylie Tower Foundation founder: Channing School pupils launch food drive for Highgate Charity

Pupils at Channing School are working together to fulfil Alexandra Wylie’s dream of eradicating social exclusion and inequality by launching a food drive for local people who go hungry at Christmas.

Hampstead students follow in footsteps of Anna Pavlova with ballet lessons

Pupils at St Anthony’s School for Girls are following in former resident and prima ballerina Anna Pavlova’s footsteps with ballet lessons.

Hampstead schoolgirls hold yoga day for Indian village

They are raising money for children in rural India with a day of yoga, meditation and well-being.

Residents fight Belsize Park school’s plans for expansion

A group of angry Swiss Cottage residents have launched a campaign group to oppose plans by a private school to build new classrooms

Parents slapped with school fines and ‘wrongly’ told by Camden Council they cannot appeal

Camden parents were forced to pay a total of £20,000 in school fines in the last year, new figures have revealed.

School memories: BBC journalist Laura Trevelyan (Parliament Hill, Hampstead)

We spoke to BBC journalist Laura Trevelyan about her memories of Parliament Hill, Hampstead.

Headteacher of Hampstead private school says sport should engage the majority rather than burnish the few

The headteacher of a private school believes that sport in school should be used to engage the majority rather than burnish the few amidst reports that not enough young people are doing enough exercise each week.

Bishop Douglass joins Academy chain

The headteacher of Bishop Douglass Catholic School in Barnet has said he is “delighted,” by the progress being made in converting the school into an academy.

Working Men’s College urging people to sign up

The Working Men’s College (WMC) is urging people to sign up or miss out as the start of the academic year approaches.

Pupil at top Camden school refuses to open GCSEs because ‘obsession with grades is damaging’

Teenagers around the country anxiously tore open their GCSE results last week – but one Camden schoolgirl is refusing to even glance at hers because she believes society’s obsession with grades is damaging.

Portland Place commends successful students

Portland Place school students returned to school this morning to collect their GCSE results, with most being more than satisfied with what they found.

Year 6 pupil among those celebrating GCSEs at Greig City Academy

Greig City Academy today praised its students for some impressive grades in their GCSE results - including a year 6 student who got an A* in maths!

Quintin Kynaston improves GCSE results again

Students and staf at Quintin Kynaston school had reason to be happy today as they once again improved on the previous years’ GCSE performance.

Successful GCSE results day for Highgate School

Students and staff at Highgate school were reflecting on a very impressive set of GCSE results today, with 88.2 percent of exams receiving a grade of A* or A.

Highgate Wood School delighted with record-breaking GCSE results

The Headteacher has congratulated pupils as the school achieves best results in four years, bucking the national trend

Double success for Channing twins

Two sets of twins were among the standout performers at Channing school on GCSE results day, as the school recorded some excellent grades.

Paddington Academy student scores best ever GCSE results

Paddington Academy was celebrating a good set of GCSE results today, including their best ever set of results for a single student.

Fortismere School celebrates excellent results as disadvantaged children catch up

The Headteacher is pleased the gap between the grades of children eligible for school meals and wealthier pupils has “significantly” reduced

Improved results for Hampstead School for third successive year

The Hampstead School has once again seen its GCSE results improve today, with nearly a quarter of all grades receiving an A* or A grade.

Top marks for Henrietta Barnett

Henrietta Barnett school has produced another incredible set of GCSE results today, with its best set to date.

Hornsey School for Girls with jump in GCSE results

Girls at Hornsey School for Girls were today collecting some stellar GCSE results.

William Ellis headteacher praises ‘exemplary’ students after GCSE results released

The headteacher of William Ellis school, Sam White, was full of praise for his students today after a promising set of GCSE results.

South Hampstead celebrates A* successes

A senior staff member at South Hampstead High School praised the “grit” of students after 64 percent of exams were given a grade of A*.

Top marks for UCS’s second best set of GCSE results

University College School was today celebrating the second best set of GCSE results in its history, with a remarkable 88.6 percent of exams achieving either an A* or A grade.

Thousand of teens go back to school for GCSE results

Teenagers across the country face one of the most nerve-racking days of their young lives today with the publication of GCSE results.

Camden council leader praises “inspirational” A-level students

Camden council leader Sarah Hayward was full of praise for A-level students across the borough following the publication of their results last week.

Greig City celebrates improved A-level results

Greig City Academy was today reflecting on A-level results which will see its students take up places at some of the top universities in the country.