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Top Hampstead independent school UCS sets tough new GCSE grade target to enter sixth form

The new headteacher of University College School in Hampstead has set tough new GCSE grade boundaries to enter sixth form The new headteacher of University College School in Hampstead has set tough new GCSE grade boundaries to enter sixth form

Friday, January 24, 2014
9:00 AM

A Hampstead independent school has set tough new guidelines for pupils to enter sixth form - as its headteacher warned universities will place new focus on GCSE grades after AS-levels are jettisoned.

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Pupils at University College School (UCS) in Frognal must now achieve the equivalent of four A and six B grades at GCSE to continue to study A-levels, under new rules introduced by headteacher Mark Beard.

The target, which will be brought in from September, comes in the form of a points system, with points awarded for the top three GCSE grades.

Pupils must score at least 14 points to attend sixth-form and will receive three points for an A* grade, two for an A and one for a B.

The target will be tailored to individual pupils’ needs and will be used as a monitor to track progress.

Mr Beard, who has been headteacher since September, said in a letter to Year 10 parents on January 15: “UCS pupils need to understand the importance of their GCSE profile for future university and, eventually, job applications – and to realise that this will be even more important for their year group than for the current years above.”

He continued: “The intention is that such a hurdle will motivate the boys to do well across all of their subjects, not just the ones they are interested in or planning to stay on with at A-level.”

The headteacher said he believes GCSE grades will be under more scrutiny by university admissions teams once AS-levels are scrapped.

The school says the new points system has the support of parents and pupils.

Year 10 pupil Jake Clarke, 14, told UCS Compass: “I think the system will be good for filtering out some people to cut down the numbers for sixth form as this can open more spaces for applicants. Though at the same time, 14 points does not seem like that many for the type of student that UCS wants studying here.”

UCS has fallen down the independent school league tables over the last two years based on the percentage of A* and A grades at A-level.

The school ranked 59th in the national league tables in 2013, down from 23rd in 2011.

It has been outperformed by north London rivals Channing and Highgate School since 2011.

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