Hollygirt School in Nottingham celebrates its pupils on GCSE results day.
New grades and intentionally more rigorous exams with practically no coursework have made this year’s GCSE results more patchy than before – with 9 instead of 6 grades and with only the vaguest of correlations between what was an old style A* or C grade and what is a 9 or a 7 or a 4, the changes are difficult to interpret.
Add to this the pressures the teachers were under this last academic year in interpreting the nuances of new specifications and the lack of exemplar material and past papers to teach from. It has been a tough year all round.
However what makes results variable and makes year on year comparisons even more pointless is that each cohort of pupils is unique. At Hollygirt, we take an ability mix similar to that in every maintained school: some high fliers, many with needs that mean processing, remembering and interpreting information can be challenging. For some, writing it down and sustaining the attention for the length of exams required is too much.
We enter pupils for exams knowing that they all have a chance to shine and so many do. We do not deselect those for entry who are likely to fail, a trend much reported recently in the press by schools who are desperate to do the right thing by their statistics; kudos for a secondary school comes only from grades. We applaud the attempt even if it doesn’t make the grade. At Hollygirt, pupils are individuals each with a unique work ethic, cognitive capacity, set of self-imposed expectations; each expected only to work hard and to do their best. What more can they do?
Hollygirt’s high fliers have flown high. Amy Goldney achieved a grade 9 in 8 subjects. Others got grade 9s where they had real talent: Saphir Schanzer and Trécia Mellors in Art for example.
Overall, 76% of pupils obtained 5 or more 9 – 4 grades with an amazing 37% of papers sat obtaining grades 9 – 7. We are delighted by these results and if this morning’s opening of the envelopes is anything to go by, so are most of the pupils. It goes without saying that those who worked hard were rewarded for their efforts. We are also proud of the staff who persevered with the changes and worked so hard to ensure that all their pupils made fantastic progress.