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Headmaster’s Blog GCSE results

August 29, 2013

We have all seen the renewed educational headlines decrying the on-going political interference with the public exam system in England. Recently, a pupil who scored six A* grades at A level (and gaGCSE2013lowresined a place at Oxford) has publicly castigated the Education Secretary for his ‘offensive’ exam reforms. The argument here is that by removing modules and re-sit opportunities there are fewer chances for pupils to improve on earlier mistakes and shortcomings. Notwithstanding concerns such as this – along with the pace and timing of some changes – there has been a recognition that standards needed tightening and, thus, so-called ‘grade inflation’ reversed.

Ballard has not been immune from the tightening of grade boundaries at GCSE, especially on the C/D border line. In keeping with most schools in our locality, even some of the selective ones, we have seen our A* to C grade percentage (including English and Maths) fall but we remain firmly at the top end of the non-selective schools in our locality. Moreover, our results in Maths and in Science were stunning – and certainly running counter to what has been reported by many schools locally and nationally. We shall continue to analyse results alongside projected pupil performance (in most cases very encouraging) and to adapt our learning and teaching to the changes in exam assessment (such as the move from modular courses to linear ones).

A particular bright light on our GCSE ‘horizon’ this year was the performance of many individual pupils. Our overall A* / A grade results rose significantly (to 30% compared to 21% nationally) and individual performances were the best for many years. These included the Head Boy with ten A* and two As, the Deputy Head Boy on seven and five respectively and four others with double figure A* / A grades. However, as is always the case in a non-selective school such as ours, the results which often give the most pleasure are those for pupils who had low expectations when they joined us and have now left to go to the sixth form of their choice with very creditworthy results. Meeting some of their parents on results’ day was deeply moving and humbling.

We shall continue to respond appropriately to changes imposed on us nationally as well as to look at other possible options (IGCSEs for example) but, most of all, we shall go on emphasising the importance of a holistic education. Once more our GCSE results have shown that those pupils of whatever academic ability who have been kept sensibly busy and active outside of the classroom have excelled in the exam hall. Our best wishes to go to all of our Year 11 pupils as they move on to pastures new.

Alastair Reid (Headmaster)

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