Harrogate headteachers say A-Level results are 'true reflection' of pupil performance during pandemic

Harrogate headteachers have reacted with delight to today's A-Level results which they say are a "true reflection" of how students have performed during the pandemic.

Tuesday, 10th August 2021, 4:21 pm
Sylvia Brett, principal of Harrogate Ladies College (centre), pictured with top performing A-Level students.

After last summer's results were downgraded and then upgraded in a debacle which damaged trust in the education system, today's grades have been awarded based on teacher assessments and not exams which were cancelled for the second year running due to Covid.

The number of students achieving top grades across the UK has soared to record levels which will ultimately put extra pressure on places for the most competitive universities and courses.

In Yorkshire and the Humber, 41.1% of grades awarded were A* or A - up from 35% last year.

Neil Renton, headteacher of Harrogate Grammar School.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Neil Renton, headteacher of Harrogate Grammar School, said: "With a sixth form experience disrupted by lockdowns, this remarkable performance demonstrates their exceptional resilience and determination.

"Teachers drew on their expertise and professional experience to objectively assess each student’s level, awarding grades which were moderated and quality assured by exam boards.

"The grades, in our view, are a true reflection of their performance.

"We fully appreciate the exceptional hard work of all our students, the support of their families and the dedication of all our teachers and support staff. This is a cohort of young people who have had an experience like no other."

Sylvia Brett, principal of Harrogate Ladies College.

Council and organisers at loggerheads in Harrogate Christmas Market disputeSylvia Brett, principal of Harrogate Ladies College, also said students have had the "most difficult" 18 months of disruptions during the pandemic and that it was "comparing apples and pears" to compare these results with other years.

She said: "These grades are very well earned by pupils and they need to have their moment to feel really proud of what they have achieved.

"This year we have had a very comprehensive system for awarding grades... and it has been a true reflection of a very different way of assessing pupils.

"The pandemic has been an incredibly difficult time for young people across the country, but I also think that this generation has been quite extraordinary in the way they have dealt with it.

"Their resilience, their determination and their drive to do their best - this generation are going to be one to be reckoned with in future years."

Last summer, the grading fiasco led to thousands of students having their results downgraded from school estimates by a controversial algorithm before exams regulator Ofqual announced a U-turn.

This time around, no algorithm was used to moderate grades and schools were given options to use a range of evidence for results, including 'mini-exams', coursework and mock exams.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, who last summer faced repeated calls to step down following the grading fiasco, said teacher assessments were the “only” approach the government could have taken this year.

He told ITV’s Good Morning Britain today: "I believe that what we have done in terms of actually trusting teachers, giving them the support and actually working with them in order to be able to get grades for children and students, is the absolute right approach.

"It's the approach that, in my mind, as we developed contingency plans... it was the only approach that we could take.

"And I think it's fair and right on the system, but most importantly fair and right on students themselves."

The release of A-Level results means GCSEs are just around the corner.

This Thursday, it will be the turn of Year 11 students to find out if they have got into sixth form or college.

These results will also be based on teacher assessments.

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter