A global pandemic, lockdown, school closures, and a huge U-turn from the government after the A Level grading debacle has failed to dim Southwark’s shining stars.
Even before the government ditched the algorithm and announced teacher assessments would be used after all, Southwark Council had confirmed student outcomes at KS5 had ‘improved at all measures’.
In figures released last Friday, the local authority confirmed the borough’s range of improvement was 0.9 percentage points to 4.7 percentage points.
The greatest improvement was shown in the range A* to B and A* to C, which were two and 1.8 percentage points above the national figure.
Three quarters of schools had reported an increase in the percentage of A Level entries with top grades (A* and A) and 83 per cent of schools had improved performances in the A*-B and A*-C brackets. Half the borough’s schools had improved A Levels across the board.
Councillor Jasmine Ali, cabinet member for children, schools and adult care, said: “Uncertainty around national arrangements has only made it more stressful for our young people, yet Southwark’s A-Level and BTEC students have been incredibly resilient.”
Despite the happy news, leaders have hit out at the government for permanently damaging trust in the education system.
St Michael’s head teacher Felicity Corcoran had told the News on results day how ‘totally inexplicable’ downgrades had been made to students’ grades. The Charter School North Dulwich’s head Christian Hicks said 43 per cent of all grades submitted had been downgraded.
As has been well publicised, the algorithm puts state school students and those from less affluent areas and top schools at a disadvantage, as it doesn’t take into account individual performance; only that of the school overall.
Council leader Peter John blasted the ‘fiasco’ as ‘foreseeable and avoidable’, Neil Coyle described the PM and education secretary Gavin Williamson as ‘incompetent’, and Dulwich and West Norwood MP Helen Hayes highlighted the knock-on impact on university admissions.
“The Tories’ U-turn is welcome after days of heartache and confusion but they must now provide urgent support to universities to unpick the admissions chaos caused by their unjust algorithm,” she said.
“Many students have already lost out and that can’t be allowed to stand.”