01 August 2022

Options Open - Improving grades at A Level

Options Open - Improving grades at A Level

If I was asked where the College is truly at its best, where it most obviously makes a positive contribution, my answer would be a relatively straightforward one:

When we turn lives around by picking students up from seemingly hopeless situations to help them to find ways to enable the pursuit of their goals again, purposefully, with belief.

I still recall very fondly a telephone conversation with a parent on A Level results day a few years ago with one of the parents, offering a retrospective analysis of their daughter’s intensive year at Ealing Independent College. She was delighted at having just accepted an offer for the course of her choice, having effectively turned her life around in the space of eleven months. 

Almost a year previously, her confidence was on the floor, having scored CDD grades in her A Levels and having missed out on all of the university places she had been targeting. She was clearly devastated when she came to Ealing for her first interview at the College. I recall it vividly. When she came back for her second, her mother explained how the first meeting had restored her hope and raised her spirits. It had made it clear that she should not give up.

That year went very well to begin. Very strong results in all three of her subjects led to realistic predictions of ABB in Psychology, Geography and Biology. She planned to study Psychology with Criminology, was passionate about reaching her goals and became tunnel-visioned in an effort to make it happen.

Of course, nothing ever goes completely according to plan. The student in question had to deal with extenuating issues outside of school, and had always struggled to deal with anxiety. These issues culminated in a rather large mistake - one which can happen to any student - and the student missed a 9am Biology exam believing it to start at 2pm. Instantly, staff at the College got to work in trying to put forth strategies and solutions which could improve the situation. We quickly scheduled a meeting, and a plan was made to transmit a letter to all universities applied to in order to make them aware of the situation and to give a fully holistic picture of the qualities of the unfortunate student. I wrote the letter myself, supported by all of her teachers, and her mother appreciated it:

‘Your meeting and letter has helped to improve my daughter’s well being this afternoon. I hope we can move forward with a positive frame of mind from this event today. It has been distressing for her but your supportive words have helped. I am very grateful to you.’

When the results came, there was improvement, but not as much as hoped. Her Biology result was static, but both other subjects recorded positive enhancements. They were enough to get her to where she wanted to go.

Her mother sent a message of thanks soon after:

‘It has been a challenging year but her hard work did show some improvement in grades but mainly I am grateful for the improvement in her confidence and that in part is due to the teaching relationship she had with your staff.’

This is just one story - one example of the good work that the College does year in and year out.

It may not always follow ‘Plan A’, but to err is eminently human. This is exactly the spirit which characterises the retaking of A Levels at Ealing. No one who ever comes to EIC with a desire to improve themselves is pre-judged or ‘looked down upon’. It takes very little time to reestablish confidence in the welcoming environment of the College.

Disappointments are temporary and can be overcome and the experiences of our former students are testament to that philosophy.

Hamze left Ealing Independent College with a highly impressive set of A level results, he has pursued a successful journey in the finance industry and is currently working as an Investment Banking Analyst. Missing the three A grades which he needed to get into UCL, he did not give up on his dreams of attending this institution. Instead, he came to Ealing, worked hard and actually left with three A*s.

Sadie works in a similar industry, and had similarly high ambitions. Her heart was set on a Russell Group university - but her initial A Level results limited her options in making it. She came to Ealing for a year, resat Economics and took on Chemistry from scratch, leaving with two A grades, and securing a place at the University of Warwick.

Sebastian was typical of a student who performed exceptionally at GCSE, but lacked the maturity and focus to prosper at A Levels the first time around. Returning to study, and finding the right environment at the College, he left with thoroughly deserved A* grades in Mathematics, Biology and Chemistry, went on to an undergraduate course at the University of Bristol and postgraduate studies at Imperial College.

Jack underperformed at his previous school, but didn’t let this hold him back. Taking CCD grades up to AAC, he then accepted a place at the University of Manchester, studying Mechatronic Engineering. He has undergone some very successful internships, and has an exciting career ahead of him. Without resitting, this simply would not have been possible.

Maneet was a student in a similar vein. Just missing out on her intended university destination, she managed to turn things around at Ealing, improving her grades in Mathematics, Chemistry and Spanish to secure a place at Royal Holloway, University of London. Now working in Marketing, she looks back on her time at the College very fondly as a time where she realised how important it was not to give up on her ambitions.

  • 25


    Visiting the London School of Economics: Y13 trip

    Patrick, our Business and Economics teacher, had come across a book called “If you are so ethical, why are you so highly paid?” by Alexander (Sandy) P...

  • 14


    The Monday Briefing: It's Late

    It’s perfectly normal behaviour for children to test the boundaries and push the limits.  The most important response for a parent, or teacher, who ha...

  • 31


    The Monday Briefing: Feelings Feelings

    As I was contemplating the many facets of my role over the half term week, I happened upon a couple of articles which drew immediate interest. One, en...

  • 18


    Oh My Sallow Tree

    “Oh my Sallow Tree” is the title of the poem that won the National Poetry Day Competition - for the category of Key Stage 4 and 5 - launched by Bellev...

  • 17


    The Monday Briefing: Breakthru

    I was incredibly proud to be asked to give a presentation to my colleagues at the Bellevue Education Heads Forum on Tuesday, with the focus of the day...

  • 04


    The Monday Briefing: A Kind of Magic

    I had a conversation last week with Laura, the Vice Principal, about our assessment regime, Months Marks, at the College. Not normally one to fall ove...

  • 26


    The Monday Briefing: Bicycle Race

    One of the best things about being Principal of a small school is the ability to truly get to know all of the students in your care. 

  • 20


    The Monday Briefing: One Vision

    It has been a pleasure to welcome the students, both new and returning, to the College in the last fortnight, and to see such an atmosphere of excitem...

  • 12


    The Monday Briefing: God Save the Queen

    "There are decades when nothing happens; and there are weeks when decades happen" So wrote Vladimir Lenin, when he was living in exile before the Russ...

  • 05


    The Monday Briefing: Hang On In There

    If ever I needed a reminder of why I do what I do - and I very rarely do to reinforce why I enjoy the role so much - it came on Friday. Having only ju...

  • 30


    The Monday Briefing: Was It All Worth It

    It’s around this time of year, following the A Level and GCSE results, when everyone involved - staff, students and parents - should collectively ask ...

  • 25


    GCSE Results - The Future Looks Bright

    Following on from the successes of A Level results last week, GCSE students at Ealing Independent College showed their resilience, commitment and dete...