Birmingham TV

Sunrise Sunset

RESULTS DAY: Headteacher hits back on ‘grade inflation claims’

RESULTS DAY: Headteacher hits back on ‘grade inflation claims’

Image: LDRS

A headteacher has hit back at complaints about grade inflation and has said students receiving their A-level and GCSE results this week should be proud of their hard work.

Paul Shone, Headteacher at Holly Lodge High School in Smethwick, said: “Given the rigorous process, students should be confident that they can point to the process and refute any notion that there has been grade inflation.

“We have been relentless in ensuring that we are transparent in all aspects of our grading and have ensured we have in no way tried to game the system. After all, this would become apparent in subsequent years and in reality do our students no favours in the future.”

He added: “Students should ignore complaints about grade inflation as they have been held to rigorous standards over a longer period of time than the number of hours that would have been used to assess their ability within the examination process. The students have worked intensively in very difficult times.”

Like most secondary schools across the Black Country, Holly Lodge High School has had Covid-related closures and burst bubbles since the pandemic began.

This year, out of 70 pupils completing A Levels, 67 have received offers to study further education, including 13 at Russell-group universities and two in medical schools. Three pupils did not apply.

Mr Shone, who has been the headteacher for Holly Lodge High School for six years, added: “I believe that schools such as Holly Lodge should stand up for students to be proud of their achievements. We are confident that the assessment is accurate and reflect the ability of students.”

Sixth formers in the Black Country will join hundreds of thousands around the country awaiting their A-level results and, for those going to university, hoping to gain a place during a difficult academic year.

In the West Midlands, 40.9% of grades were awarded an A* or A, a 5.9% increase compared to 2020, where only 35% of grades were awarded the highest marks. In 2019 it was only 22%.

Of all A* – C grades awarded in the West Midlands, 86.1% in 2020 to 87.2% was recorded – a moderate 1.1%.

Ariana Jade Graf-Haro, 18, from Smethwick, studied Mathematics, Computer Science, and Physics, at Holly Lodge High School. She was awarded B,C,C and will study an Aerospace Engineering degree at Swansea University.

She said: “It was struggling from time to time, especially with the frustration of being on lockdown continuously. But my teachers were so reassuring, from my head of Sixth Form to my subject teachers.

“They would say to us: ‘If you need help, we are a phone call away.’ If we needed extra support or to talk about our emotions to make sure we were not feeling anxious or claustrophobic in our bedrooms, they would support us.”

Speaking about those who have complained about grade inflation making it easier for students, she said: “I would just say if you didn’t put the effort in during the year, your effort shows your results. It’s nothing to do with your teachers. Because I know most of my friends they’ve got A’s and A*’s and they worked so hard every day, every hour, and people who didn’t get the grades they wanted.”

This year, teachers in England have been required to consider a range of evidence, including mock exams, coursework and in-class assessments using questions by exam boards, to make decisions on pupils’ grades.

Samples of student work have been sent to exam boards, as well as listed evidence above, as part of ‘quality assurance’ checks. Random and targeted sample checks of evidence were also carried out after grades were submitted.

Last summer a controversial algorithm was used, where teachers were told to submit the grades they thought each student would have received if they sat their papers, alongside a rank order of students, after exams were cancelled amid the pandemic.

This led to two in five (39.1%) pupils’ grades in England being downgraded, according to data from Ofqual – the equivalent of 280,000 entries.

But the algorithm was so volatile that the proportion of A-level entries awarded an A grade or higher has risen to an all-time high, with 27.9% securing the top grades last year.

No algorithm will be used this year to determine or moderate pupils’ grades.

Councillor Ruth Buttery, cabinet member for children and young people said: “I know this has been a challenging year for our students, especially those who were due to sit their GCSE and A-level exams.

“They’ve all worked incredibly hard, with schools ensuring they’ve done everything in their power to allow children to continue to learn, whether that’s been at home during lockdown or periods of isolation, or in school or college while adhering to government guidelines.

“All of our young people should be incredibly proud of what they’ve achieved under such unusual circumstances. I want to wish all our students all the very best as they prepare to start a new chapter, whether that’s in training, employment or further education.”


Words: Rhi Storer, Local Democracy Reporter

Watch Live

Watch the channel on TV






Virgin Media