A-levels: St Angela’s headteacher criticises ‘ludicrous’ methods to calculate grades

St Angela's Ursuline headteacher, Mark Johnson. Picture: Jon King

St Angela's Ursuline headteacher, Mark Johnson. Picture: Jon King - Credit: Archant

A headteacher has branded the methods used to calculate students’ A-level grades “ludicrous” and a “national disgrace”.

Although pupils at St Angela’s Ursuline School secured the grades required for university places, with half at A*-B and 80 per cent at A*-C, Mark Johnson said that a “large percentage” were given grades lower than those submitted by teachers.

He said: “Whilst I am pleased with the overall results for St Angela’s, a large percentage of the students, including those busy securing places at university are amongst those given lower grades by a ludicrous moderation system which took next to no notice of the grades teachers actually awarded.

“It is a national disgrace that the prior attainment of other students in a school has been used to determine the results of this cohort as that is nothing to do with the hard work these students have put into their education in the past seven years.”

With no exams possible this year because of the pandemic, teachers were asked to submit the grades they felt each student would have achieved and a rank of all their pupils.

Exam boards then moderated the grades to ensure the results were broadly in line with previous years.

According to Ofqual, 39.1pc of marks were reduced, with 35.6pc reduced by one grade, 3.3pc reduced by two and 0.2pc by three.

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Dr Michelle Meadows, the organisation’s executive director for strategy, risk and research, said that research literature covering A-level predictions for university entrants shows that “there is a tendency to be more generous to students from lower socio-economic status”.

She added: “Outcomes for different groups, whether that be by socio-economic status, ethnicity, gender, the outcomes for these groups are very similar to those in previous years.”

Pupils from the St George’s Road, Forest Gate school will be heading to universities including Oxford, Cambridge, Warwick and Imperial to take up places on courses such as law, mathematics and biomedical engineering.