Leeds schools and colleges disappointed over A Level results downgrades

There were cheers and tears as more than 4,000 students across the city collected their A-Level results today.

Thursday, 13th August 2020, 4:45 pm

Despite exams having been cancelled earlier this year due to the coronavirus outbreak, thousands of students still endured a nervous wait for emails or an allotted time to pick up their results in person.

Grades this year were calculated after teachers were told to submit the grades they thought each student would have received if they had sat the papers, alongside a rank order of students and exam boards then moderated the grades.

While some students still got the grades they needed to go onto university, further studies or work - others have been left disappointed with schools and colleges now looking at appeals processes after thousands of pupils' results were downgraded.

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Students celebrate exam success at Leeds Grammar School.

Leeds City Council's education spokesperson, Coun Jonathan Pryor said "my heart goes out to those students if they have received unexpected or disappointing grades".

His comments come as several A-Level schools and colleges vowed to appeal against results.

However, it was smiles all round at The Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL) where identical twins Arnav and Aryan Kotwal are celebrating after achieving four A*s each in the same A-level subjects.

The teenagers from Scarcroft made their clean sweep of A*s in chemistry, maths, further maths and physics and both now intend to study maths at university.

Students picking up A-Level results from Allerton Grange school.

Aryan said: “We are just so excited. I think we both felt that we would do quite well but seeing our results was amazing.”

Arnav added: “The wait was a bit stressful but we couldn’t be happier with our results.”

More than a third of students at GSAL achieved the top grades of three As or more, with six students gaining four A*s and a further five achieving at least three A*s. Figures released by the school say 20 per cent were passes at A*; 54 per cent of grades were at A*and A and 79 per cent of grades were at A*-B.

Fulneck School in Pudsey also said it was determined to celebrate the success of students regardless of the current circumstances.

Charlotte Manley and Ted Borland celebrate at The Grammar School at Leeds.

Principal, Paul Taylor, said: "I am more proud than ever of the resilience and stoicism of the students who have endured several months of pressure waiting for these results. Their achievements are in no way diminished by the absence of exams this year.

"They have achieved, in the vast majority of cases, as we would have expected them to do with exams in place. Equally important, their wide-ranging contributions to our community over the years ensure that they leave us prepared for the next steps in their exciting lives and ready to make a positive impact on the wider world.”

At Woodkirk Academy 60 per cent of all grades awarded were the top grades A*-B or equivalent with a 100 per cent pass rate.

Allerton Grange told the Yorkshire Evening Post it now had pupils progressing to university courses at the University of Leeds, University of Birmingham, University of Bristol, University of Wales Lampeter, Aberystwyth University, Newcastle University, University of Durham, University of Central Lancashire, University of York and the University of Law.

Twins Arnav and Aryan Kotwal from Scarcroft who both gained four A* grades in the same subjects at The Grammar School in Leeds.

Headteacher, Mike Roper, said: “We are so proud of what this year group have achieved in what has been a very unsettling and worrying time for them.

It was wonderful to see students this morning celebrating their results and making plans to attend university. We wish every one of them well on their next adventure. We will continue to support students who have not been awarded the grade they deserve.”

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Figures show that students in the Yorkshire and Humber region receiving A*-E grades this morning is 98.4 per cent - up 0.6 from 2019, though slightly below the uptake across England (0.7).

Some 25.4 per cent of Yorkshire and the Humber students have received A* and A grades - up 2.2 from last year but again slightly below the national increase of 2.4 per cent.

But exam boards downgraded nearly two in five (39.1 per cent) pupils' grades in England, according to data from Ofqual - which amounts to around 280,000 entries being adjusted down after moderation.

Jhat Thompson with his results at Woodkirk High School.

Brigshaw School at Castleford said 99 per cent of students who applied to university were successful but there were "concerns over the methodology used by the exam boards which has caused some unfair anomalies for certain students’ results"

The Gorse Academies Trust, who operate two post-16 provisions in Leeds; Elliot Hudson College and Elliot Hudson Boston Spa said it felt deep frustration at the results handed out this morning after 28 per cent of grades, which is around 400 students, were downgraded.

David Holtham, Executive Principal of Post-16, said: “I have a sense of deep frustration over the process. Schools, Colleges and Academies were given a clear methodology to follow to ensure accurate centre assessed grades were produced. My team undertook this task with diligence and integrity to ensure that our predictions were a true representation of what our students would have achieved had they sat their exams.

“In my opinion, something has gone seriously wrong in the exam board standardisation, which has resulted in a significant proportion of grades being downgraded. We need a full and clear disclosure of the process of standardisation at national level and assurances from the highest levels that either regionally or nationally, groups of students or sectors of the education system have not been unfairly disadvantaged.”

Sir John Townsley, CEO of The GORSE Academies Trust, added: "Everyone recognises the unprecedented times in which we are operating. Nevertheless our young people deserve better than this. The situation reflects a lack of effective consultation and will, undoubtedly, result in some students losing out. Many of these will be from less advantaged backgrounds.”

This afternoon Leeds City Council confirmed that the Department for Education had announced a ‘triple lock’ process this week. Students will be given three choices; they can accept their calculated grades, appeal to receive a valid mock exam result, or alternatively they can opt to sit their exams in the autumn.

Results from this year’s exams will not be collated and used by the Government in performance tables, or by Ofsted to inform inspection judgements. In light of the changes to the examinations process, Leeds City Council will not collect results from schools this year.

Coun Jonathan Pryor, executive board member for learning, skills and employment said: “I would like to congratulate everyone on the results they have received today, which as always, are the result of a lot of hard work, effort and determination, as well as the high quality of teaching in our schools and colleges.

“To say that this year has been challenging for everyone in schools and other learning settings would be an understatement and my heart goes out to those students if they have received unexpected or disappointing grades. It is unfortunate that students have been unable to show what they can do in formal assessments and then had to deal with uncertainty and last minute changes to the awarding process.”

"Schools and colleges are on hand to offer additional advice and guidance, and I want to thank all those staff for the support they are providing to young people in the city as they consider their next steps and destinations."