ASCL comment ahead of GCSE results day

19/08/2020
Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders comments on GCSE results day tomorrow. 
 
Commenting on GCSE results day tomorrow, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:
 
GCSE results day tomorrow will be a lot better than the chaos of A-level results day last week when students were left distraught upon receiving grades which had been moderated down, often without any apparent rhyme or reason. The decision to revert to centre-assessed grades is the fairest option in the circumstances. 
 
However, it is inevitable that some students will be unhappy with their centre-assessed grades. We would reassure them that schools followed a rigorous and painstaking process in reaching these decisions. This process involved drawing on a range of evidence to provide an objective view of each student’s likely performance if exams had gone ahead. 
 
We understand that some students will feel unhappy that they are unable to appeal their centre-assessed grades. It is difficult to see how appeals would work in practice given the logistical challenges involved in reviewing the evidence and decision-making that went into a very complex process, and doing so in a way which is consistent. We are not aware of any plans to extend the grounds of appeal in order to allow students to challenge centre-assessed grades but would be happy to consider any proposals.
 
Reverting to centre-assessed grades means that, overall, more students will receive higher GCSE grades this year than in past years. This is because schools may, understandably, have given some students the benefit of the doubt when they are on the borderline between two grades and they had the capability to achieve the higher grade. These are individual decisions but across the system it means there will be an upward trend.
 
This could have implications for sixth forms and colleges, with potentially more students applying for higher-tariff courses than they might otherwise have done. That could necessitate increasing class sizes in some courses and there may be pressure on the space that is available in some institutions. We will watch closely how this unfolds and work with our members and the government to ensure the needs of students are met.
 
We also urge students to think carefully about their choices and make their decision based on what course engages them and what path they want to follow in their future lives. There are a wide range of excellent technical, vocational, and academic routes available, and higher-tariff options are not automatically the best option for every student. 
 
We wish all students, and their teachers, all the best for tomorrow and beyond.