Head praises achievements at Wisbech Grammar but warns Government to expect ‘slew of appeals against grades they have delivered’’

PUBLISHED: 13:17 16 August 2020 | UPDATED: 13:17 16 August 2020

Wisbech Grammar School headteacher Chris Staley has commended students for their A-Level results, which he says have “significantly improved” from 12 months ago.

Wisbech Grammar School headteacher Chris Staley has commended students for their A-Level results, which he says have “significantly improved” from 12 months ago.

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Head Chris Staley believes his students at Wisbech Grammar School “continue to achieve top grades and their achievements have certainly not been derailed by coronavirus or last-minute Government changes”.

Drone footage of Wisbech Grammar SchoolDrone footage of Wisbech Grammar School

Head Chris Staley believes says his students at Wisbech Grammar School “continue to achieve top grades and their achievements have certainly not been derailed by coronavirus or last-minute Government changes”.

He said: “At a very top level, I am really pleased with the A-Level results this year. They have significantly improved from twelve months ago.

“The top grades (A*-A) accounted for a third of results and 50% of grades were A*-B, and 70 per cent of results were A* to C grades.

Wisbech Grammar School Sixth Form dollhouse view.Wisbech Grammar School Sixth Form dollhouse view.

“The overall pass rate was above 97 per cent, again an improvement upon last year and 81 per cent of WGS pupils gained their 1st choice places at university.”

Mr Staley said that with the background of a cancelled examination series for the U6th, his pupils had shown resilience, motivation and fortitude to weather the lockdown.

“The subsequent switch to remote/ distance learning during lockdown coupled to the enormous amount of dedication and hard work by both pupils and staff (plus the support of parents) we have managed to ensure that pupils at WGS have in no way been disadvantaged by the impact of coronavirus,” he said.

The build-up to the results had been incredibly unsettling for all concerned.

The outcries around firstly IB results earlier in the summer and then last week, “the embarrassing climbdown over Scottish Higher examination results” followed by an 11th-hour change in England has done nothing to support or build confidence in his pupils or staff”.

He said there were of course pupils who were disappointed with their grades.

Many (both in and outside of education) do not understand the current situation, he said.

On one hand the Government can offer pupils the option to take their mock forward if they are unhappy with their actual grade (something set and assessed by their teachers).

But, he said, the same teachers who used mock grades plus a surfeit of additional data to produce a centrally assessed grade “have had this disregarded for a lower final exam board grade has led to nothing other than confusion, upset and uncertainty”.

Mr Staley said: “I am sure we are not an isolated case and I expect there to be much debate at a national level throughout the remainder of this week and into next. “What this means for GCSE results next week and how the A-Level experience will (or will not) affect those results is too early to call.”

He said: “If we use 2020 as any sort of yardstick to predict what might happen, we are likely to see a series of changes and options made available over the coming days and the examination boards (and Government) will need to be prepared to handle a slew of appeals against the grades they have delivered.

“Statistics are all very well and I understand the desire to be ‘statistically fair’ but not if the results end up being unfair from a ‘human’ perspective. We should not lose sight of the fact we are dealing with people and young peoples’ lives and, you cannot pigeon-hole people into statistical boxes.”

A-level highlights: Arina Kokina will read law at Newcastle and will be joined by Isabella Oldershaw- Ellis who will read biology on the back of an A* in this subject at A-Level.

Harry Sayer will also attend Newcastle and study computer science.

Nathan Culley will be reading biomedical sciences at Southampton and Ursula France, mathematics at Glasgow.

Molly Sears, chemistry at Birmingham and is joined by Alice Pealling, modern foreign languages

Eleanor Sloan will be attending Rose Bruford to read for a BA in theatre and social change which boasts alumni such as Gary Oldman, Tom Baker, and Rosalie Craig.

Mr Staley told his students: “The legacy of this crisis will not be in the missed musicals, performances, sports fixtures, tours and cancelled examinations, but in the way, you have all carried yourselves in what has become a very challenging time for us all.

“Our focus at WGS has never been to simply cram you full of subject knowledge, but rather to ensure that you stand on the threshold between school life and the outside world, ready to join it as positive, considered, capable adults. More than ever this year, I believe this has been achieved. You have been a fantastic school community to work with.”


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