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13 August 2020

Forging a path for students through a complicated and confusing process

Forging a path for students through a complicated and confusing process

Awaiting A Level results tends to bring mixed emotions and nervousness amongst students any year, but this year it has been a particularly anxious time for students, parents and teachers alike. With the cancellation of exams and having to put their faith into a system of predicted grades, rankings and algorithms; it has left students feeling a lack of control of their futures. In spite of the complexities of this year’s results process, we are delighted that 52% of our students achieved A* to B, and that the majority of our students have been able to progress to their first-choice universities.

Principal of Ealing Independent College, Allan Cairns, commented: “The exam system this year has been unprecedented in many ways. A number of schools have been adversely affected by a downgrading of centre assessed grades and Ealing Independent College is no different. 38% of grades have been moved down at least one grade, and 69% of our students have been downgraded. This is in line with much of the country. Of course, this has disappointed students, parents and teachers immensely. Much of my morning has consisted of reassuring students of their options, explaining the hastily announced appeals process and subsequent options moving forward whilst fielding enquiries from parents confused about the unclear system put in place to determine the grades this year.”

The teachers and staff at Ealing Independent College have worked tirelessly to make sure that students would receive the grade that most accurately reflects their abilities and skills. This combined with outstanding and continuous online learning provision throughout the lockdown period: “Hours of work went into accurately compiling Centre Assessed Grades to be sent to the Exam Boards, following guidelines on submitting them explicitly and going through a lengthy moderation process to ensure that the College was awarding grades in line with our students’ recent performance. Work which continued through lockdown with our online provision, and which was compiled following a broad review of student assessment. Much of that work, sadly, has been disregarded.

The greatest disappointment for me has been the use of a 'one size fits all' algorithm to determine grades, rather than the following of an individualistic approach. The College's proud record of adding value to student grades, with progress scores always above +0.20 and often at +0.50 or above, seems to have been ignored. Our non-selective nature has led to many of our students, who were accurately predicted B grades, missing out on university places as they slipped down to a C. The nature of the College is based on building close relationships of trust between students and staff, and we've found this placed under incredible strain today, largely because of an arbitrary system determining final grades without the insight into student progress that we understand. We will be working tirelessly to appeal on the behalf of students where we feel there are grounds for them to challenge these grades, whilst supporting students through this difficult period.” Mr Cairns commented.

We are delighted that the majority of our students have, in spite of the unusual circumstances this year, been able to progress to their first-choice universities such as UCL, Warwick University, King’s College, Sheffield University and University of East Anglia. All the teachers and staff at Ealing Independent College will bid them farewell with our very best wishes.

Sadie, who joined the College for an A Level Intensive programme last year could not contain her excitement of having achieved AA in Economics and Chemistry, when she came in to pick up her results this morning: "I cannot wait to celebrate my A Level results! I am now looking forward to attending the University of Warwick to study Accounting and Finance. I’ve worked really well within the small class sizes in the College, and thanks to the excellent online provision provided during lockdown, I managed to stay on track to achieve the results that I received today."

Mr Cairns commented: “A truncated year of teaching due to the pandemic was negotiated successfully by Ealing Independent College; adapting our processes to ensure that we continued to strive to challenge and extend our students. The hard work, dedication and persistence of students and staff has shown through now and will continue to shine as a result of our unrelenting focus on the individual and our unique approach – pastorally and academically. We look forward to welcoming new and returning students back to the College this September.”

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