Celebrating great exam results

Students on exam results day at Brighouse High School
Students on exam results day at Brighouse High School

At Brighouse High School we have been able to celebrate some good GCSE and A-level results this summer, writes head teacher Liz Cresswell

For the first time in a number of years we were waiting in August for the results of exams that had been examined in a terminal way (at the end of the course), rather than the modular method which has been in place for a number of years and which gave much more of an insight into the results students could expect to achieve.

There is much to be said for the end of course system; not least that it gives schools time to teach rather than constantly test students. But because the new assessment was brought in hurriedly it meant that exam boards did not have time to modify the courses and so many were not designed to be assessed by this route.

Despite the pressure of so many exams in a short period the students of Brighouse High did the school, their families and themselves proud. Almost three quarters of them achieved the benchmark figure of five A*-C grades including English and maths; a great achievement for a comprehensive school with a full range of ability and non-selective intake.

When the league tables are published, however, a lower figure than this will appear. This is because this year the Government have decided only to count the first attempt at an exam in the performance figures.

I’m sure many people will share my feelings that this is a real shame. The results that should count are the ones that the pupils and their teachers worked hard to actually achieve.

A second or sometimes third chance is required to pass an exam and this makes the qualification no less meaningful. How many people require a second, third or even fourth attempt to pass their driving test?

But when they do eventually pass it counts; I’m puzzled as to why this is not the same for a GCSE.

I also despair at the hidden message to schools: “If at first you don’t succeed, give up; your result will not count anyway.”

I am pleased to say that “alternative league tables” are springing up which publish the real outcomes for schools and will allow genuine celebrations of the success of our young people.