Skinner’s Academy GCSE results: Students celebrate but principal questions new grading system

Aren Caton and Selen Sucu. Picture: Dalia Abubakr

Aren Caton and Selen Sucu. Picture: Dalia Abubakr - Credit: Archant

There were some great GCSE results at Skinners’ Academy – but the principal is far from impressed with the new grading system.

Every student studying further maths, biology, chemistry, physics and art got an A* to C grade, and 70 per cent of those who took computing, geography, French, Spanish, PE and religious studies did too.

Grading for English and maths has changed from the tried and tested A* to G to a new 9 to 1 mark, with 9 the best – and seen as better than an A* – and 1 the lowest. But Tim Clark said he, personally, doesn’t see the point of it. “They’re [the government] trying to raise standards simply by changing letters to numbers,” he said. “You can still make an A* harder to get without doing that.

“What’s so unfortunate is the fact that in these two core subjects staff have been unaware of what requires an A*, or a 9. There’s been very little guidance.

“They’ve added uncertainty for no real gain. It’s a cosmetic, unnecessary change.”

He also said the decision to phase out coursework could cause problems. “In some ways I’m sorry to see coursework go,” he said. “For some pupils coursework is more accessible, those who are not as comfortable with exam conditions.”

Two students who didn’t have any problems adjusting to the system also had their say on it.

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Selen Sucu was over the moon with her 8 A*s or 9s and 3 As, but she and another star pupil Aren Caton said all the stories predicting plummeting results as a result of the change made them more nervous.

“I was not confident because I’d seen so much on social media about how people weren’t going to get good grades,” said Aren – who was one of the top 10 students out of 170. “The new system was confusing at first, I think even the teachers weren’t sure how to teach it, but it got easier the more mock exams we did.”

Aren thinks the switch to the new system for the majority of subjects next year might put too much pressure on students. And Selen agrees.

“At A-levels it will be ridiculous,” she said. “You’ll have to put two years of knowledge into one exam.”

Selen is going on to study economics, chemistry, psychology and maths at Highgate School and Aren is off to the London Academy of Excellence to do physics, maths and history.

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