Imagine spending 2 years studying hard for an internationally recognised qualification, revising carefully for your exams, doing your level best on the days of your exams and then waiting several weeks to get your result, with which you are delighted, only to be told you that your result counts for nothing? I think that you would feel pretty disheartened. This is what happens to many independent schools every year as the Government publishes the “school league tables”.
Last year at Kingsley all of our Year 11 pupils were entered for the International GCSE exams (IGCSE) in both Maths and English. These are well respected courses that are taken by many thousands of pupils in schools across the UK as well as in international schools around the world. We chose them for our pupils because we felt that they offered the best possible chances of exam success for last year’s Year 11 pupils. Our results would suggest that this was a sensible decision. In English Language and Literature we saw a 100% pass rate. 34% of the year group got an A* or an A in English Language and 28% got an A* or an A in English Literature. In Maths we also got a 100% pass rate and an A*-A success rate of 35%. None of these results will be included in the School League Tables that will be published in January. Why not? For the very simple reason that the Government does not believe that they match the construction of the new, reformed GCSE subjects that have recently been introduced and they have therefore taken the decision not to count any IGCSE results in this year’s Performance League Tables.
This will mean that Kingsley and many other schools, including some of the “big hitters” in the world of independent education, will see their positions in League Tables plummet this year.
I am of the opinion that Kingsley parents, whilst they understand the importance of pupils achieving success in public exams, are more broad-minded and holistic in their view of what makes a good and effective education and have not chosen Kingsley solely on the basis of our position in the Performance League Tables.
Following a decision made in the Spring of 2016 to align all GCSE subjects to the same style of exam, pupils in the current Years 10 and 11 will be sitting “normal” GCSE exams in all of their subjects when their time comes, so their results will count in full towards our position in the League Tables that will be published in January 2019 and January 2020 respectively. If parents would like to understand a little more about how the Government is measuring pupil progress and attainment through its new measures (Attainment 8 and Progress 8), then this link here can be accessed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IAEgFMSGDY
Some of you might also wish to understand a little bit more about the new 9-1 grading system. This short YouTube clip should help: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AFVXtpFn55o This will be explained more fully to parents of pupils in Year 11 in our parental information evening for 6th form entry that is being held on Thursday 23rd November.
I wanted Kingsley parents to be aware of the impact that doing IGCSE exams in Maths and English will have on our position in the League Tables when they are published in January 2018. This is not me making excuses for poor performance, as our results suggest anything but poor performance. However, I believe it is important for parents to understand the complex reasons as to why our position in the Performance League Tables this year is going to be affected by the fact that our pupils sat IGCSE exams in Maths and English. The Performance League Tables will make a splash when they are published in January and there will be, as there is every year, unhelpful media and political commentary about the “dumbing down” of exams. (Just a quick aside on this point: no-one ever comments on the fact that the 100m sprint event is getting easier. Instead we praise and honour the hard work and commitment of athletes like Usain Bolt who train relentlessly to improve their performance. Why therefore can the same credit not be given to pupils and teachers preparing for exams?) We will be ignoring this media feeding frenzy and will be getting on with the task of preparing the pupils in year 11 for their summer GCSE exams as best we possibly can. They are not all going to get level 7, 8 & 9 in every subject (although some will, which is very exciting), but we will be doing all that we can to help each Kingsley pupil achieve the best possible grades that they are capable of achieving. To my mind, this is far more important than our position in any league table.