GCSE results 2021: Little Ilford head praises 'terrific' pupils but slams government's exam 'shambles'

Little Ilford headteacher Ian Wilson with pupil Shouvik

Little Ilford headteacher Ian Wilson with pupil Shouvik. - Credit: Jon King

A headteacher has praised pupils for overcoming disruption caused by the pandemic but described the government's handling of exams as a "shambles".

Ian Wilson from Little Ilford was speaking at the Manor Park school as youngsters prised open envelopes to discover how well they had done on GCSE results day (August 12).

A "delighted" Mr Wilson said: "This year group was disproportionately affected and they have been terrific. They have worked extremely hard.

"Teachers have dealt with the circumstances brilliantly."


Little Ilford head girl Marjanah achieved five grade 9s, one 8 and four 7s and is heading to London Academy of Excellence. - Credit: Jon King

This year youngsters have been given results determined by their teachers with pupils only assessed on what they were taught during the pandemic.

At Little Ilford, pupils' work was marked twice, checked by senior leaders and heads of department with samples sent to exam boards.

"It's been a very careful, rigorous process," Mr Wilson said. "Our results have been confirmed by the exam board. They agreed with our results without going beyond the initial sample."


Zain is looking forward to studying A Level at Newham Collegiate Sixth Form Centre after achieving four 9s, two 8s and two 7s at GCSE. - Credit: Jon King

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But he criticised the government's handling of the exams, describing announcement of their cancellation in January as "a shambles".

He said: "Exam boards were not able to produce sample papers until after Easter. At a national level, it was a poorly run process.

"I get that circumstances nationally are difficult, but it didn't have to be like this," he added.


Hifzur achieved ten 9s - the highest grade possible. The 16-year-old is off to Newham Collegiate Sixth Form Centre to study maths, further maths, economics and physics. - Credit: Jon King

Schools minister Nick Gibb told Sky News the government wanted exams to return next year, adding: "We expect all young people to be taking exams in 2022 but we will be making adjustments to those exams to reflect the fact this cohort will have had disruption to their education as well."

READ MORE: Can you pass these 10 GCSE questions designed for 16-year-olds?

Nationally, the proportion of GCSE entries awarded top grades has surged to an all-time high after exams were cancelled for the second year in a row due to Covid-19.

Overall, 28.9 per cent of UK GCSE entries were awarded one of the three top grades this year, up by 2.7 percentage points on last year when 26.2pc achieved the top grades, figures for England, Wales and Northern Ireland show.

In 2019, when exams were last held, only a fifth (20.8pc) of entries achieved at least a seven, equivalent to an A grade.