Families brand Camden sixth form’s strict new A-level criteria as ‘madness’

Camden’s biggest sixth-form is facing a backlash over moves to bring in stricter A-level entry requirements after concerned families described the plans as “madness”.

La Swap sixth form consortium announced last week that pupils will need to achieve mostly B grades at GCSE as a minimum requirement to get a place to study A-levels from 2015.

Some families are outraged at plans which they say are purely motivated by a desire to improve the sixth form’s league table standing. La Swap insists the decision was made to ensure all its pupils are able to cope with increasingly harder A-levels, seen to be a result of government exam reforms.

Teacher Malcolm Wilson won firsts in two university degrees but said he would not have gained a place at La Swap based on his “mediocre” O-level grades. The 50-year-old will teach at a Hampstead primary from September, but asked that the school should not be named.

“I’d hope that heads of sixth forms would look for potential beyond grades, talk to the pupils and talk to their teachers in order to find out if these young people can excel, and by excelling I don’t just mean a nice set of A*s at A-level to enhance their place in league tables,” said the father-of-one, of Chorley Wood, Hertfordshire.


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Prospective students at La Swap, made up of four Camden state secondaries, were previously able to get C grades at GCSE to sit three A-levels, and a mixture of B and C grades to sit four. From next year pupils will need to achieve mostly B grades at GCSE.

Sally Mothoni, 32, of Camden Town, is one of a number of concerned family members who fear the new policy will push out children whose parents can’t afford private tutors.

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Ms Mothoni, whose two cousins attend Acland Burghley in Tufnell Park and William Ellis in Parliament Hill, both of which feed into La Swap, said: “We don’t want another Islington, full of gangs and teenagers with nothing to do. Camden is over that.

“In the league tables La Swap will have 100 per cent because private school children will study there. But it’s not fair on the local residents.”

Stricter entry requirements at La Swap are already in place for September’s A-level students. Pupils risk losing their place for September if they missed out on a C grade in English language or mathematics.

The school say the changes were made in the face of the A-level reforms, which will see students sit all exams at the end of a two-year course from 2015.

Headteacher Sam White said: “We don’t want people to fail. A-levels have become even more demanding.

“It’s not that we don’t want less academic students in La Swap. We are still offering courses for all students. We have got some entry requirements which we are holding to more firmly, and keeping them under review.”

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