In late September 2013 the Government announced that students' GCSE results achieved on any attempt other than the first would not count in league tables from 2014 onwards. Students would, however, still continue to be credited with the best grade achieved if more than one attempt was taken, and employers and universities will continue to use the highest grade achieved for application purposes.
At Sandwell Academy in our first three years of GCSE entries, we found that entering the majority of students in English and maths in Year 10 and, if necessary, providing students with the opportunity to improve their grades during Year 11 was having a positive impact on student outcomes. With an all-ability intake, our students had averaged 73.5% 5 A*-C GCSEs including English and maths from 2011 – 2013 (see table 1).
In September 2013, the coming 2014 Year 11 cohort had taken their English and maths at the end of Year 10 with 55% of students achieving both. Given the government announcement, a decision needed to be taken as to whether we continued with this policy or not. Should we continue with a belief that more than one entry would give students the best opportunity of achieving their best grade at both English and maths and risk the DfE publishing lower outcomes for the Academy, or should we abandon our policy and leave the students one chance in the summer of Year 11 to take English and maths, possibly with less reputational impact for us?
We chose the former, and this is why:
1) We put our students' needs ahead of league table status; and
2) We believed that more children would succeed in achieving their potential in English and maths with more than one attempt. This is because:
a) Some students need practice at managing the realities of the exam process
b) Some students need real life reminders of the importance of the exams
c) Some students need to witness the success of their peers to encourage them to work harder
d) Some students need the stimulus of getting closer to their goal to help them keep going
These "some students" often have the same potential to achieve high quality results; they just need to get there by a more personalised and appropriately supported route.
We aim to maximise the performance of all our students and will continue to provide opportunities for our students to enter GCSE examinations early when we think that it is in their best interests to do so.
In the summer of 2014, 76% of the students at Sandwell Academy achieved 5A*-C with English and maths at grade C or better; a new record for the Academy. Expected progress in English and maths was extremely high and more students than ever had the qualifications needed to take the next step in their further education or training.
In the summer of 2015, 67% of the students at the Academy achieved 5A*-C with English and maths at grade C or better. Expected progress in maths was extremely high but a moderated controlled assessment impacted on progress for some students in English.
In the summer of 2016 79% of students at Sandwell Academy achieved 5A*-C with English and maths at grade C or better; a new record for the Academy. Expected progress in English and maths was above national average figures but further work on helping students make excellent progress measured by progress 8 is an Academy wide development point.
5A*- C with English and maths
2011 – 73%
2012 – 75%
2013 – 72%
2014 – 76%
2015 – 67%
2016 – 79%
The following documents are in .pdf format.