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A Level results: Impact of downgraded results varies in north London – some headteachers slam Ofqual, others hopeful of successful appeals

PUBLISHED: 12:54 14 August 2020 | UPDATED: 12:59 14 August 2020

A group of students with A Level results at LaSwap in Camden, with William Ellis deputy headteacher Izzy Jones. Picture: Polly Hancock

A group of students with A Level results at LaSwap in Camden, with William Ellis deputy headteacher Izzy Jones. Picture: Polly Hancock

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Headteachers in north London were split on the impact of grade moderation in Thursday’s A Level results.

Acland Burghley headteacher Nicholas John felt the moderation system had been 'largely fair' for A Levels in 2020. Picture: Polly HancockAcland Burghley headteacher Nicholas John felt the moderation system had been 'largely fair' for A Levels in 2020. Picture: Polly Hancock

In Barnet, the principal at Woodhouse College – which takes many students from the Muswell Hill area, was scathing about the changes.

John Rubinstein said: “Ofqual committed to moderating grades to fit the pattern of the last three years, but they have reduced our grades to lower than any of the previous three years. This is outrageous and deeply unfair on our students.

“That said, I am extremely proud of our student’s achievements.”

READ MORE: A Level results day 2020: Live blog as grades come in around Hampstead, Highgate, Camden, Haringey and Barnet

He also called on the government to follow the lead of Scottish authorities and scrap the moderated grades.

Further south, in Camden two headteachers said there had been some individual injustices, but the broader picture actually saw a slight improvement on last year at their schools.

At Acland Burghley in Tufnell Park, Nicholas John said: “We all know this has been an extraordinary term. The system has done what it said it would do, and in Ofqual’s defence it’s very difficult to see how they could have done anything different that would have been fair.

“The vast majority of students here have got the current assessed grade. That’s because we think we are good at assessment and we know how to do it.

“Where there is a failure in process is where there has been genuine improvement in comparison to the long-term data. There’s a sense the system doesn’t really account for that and it’s a bit inflexible.

“In specific cases where our students’ grades have fallen, we are quite confident in the appeals process. I think Ofqual will be fair.”

Sam White, outgoing headteacher at William Ellis, said: “The build up to this has been difficult. We were never quite sure how this was going to play out. There’s been a lot of punditry about results being downgraded, overall, ours have been pretty much where they should have been.”

Patrick Cozier, who runs Highgate Wood School, said he was “frustrated” by the algorithm that had detemined results. He said he had “sympathy” with Ofqual, but added: “The most critical thing from our point of view is that every student receives the grades that they have earned, and in some cases we do not believe this to be true.” He said the school would be appealing a number of grades.

On results day, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there had been “a very robust set of grades” and said more disadvantaged pupils than ever had achieved university places.


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