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High School: (I)GCSE and IB Updates

Fantastic (I)GCSE and IB Diploma Programme results for last year’s Year 11 and 13 students, as well as an introduction to our new teachers/LSAs.

 

High School: (I)GCSE and IB Updates

Fantastic (I)GCSE and IB Diploma Programme results for last year’s Year 11 and 13 students, as well as an introduction to our new teachers/LSAs.

It was very strange to welcome the teachers back to school a week before the beginning of term and still not know either our (I)GCSE or IBDP results.

Since the (I)GCSE and IBDP exams for May/June 2020 were cancelled in March, we have been working very closely with both the three (I)GCSE exam boards and the IB to ensure that all of our students receive the results that their hard work throughout their (I)GCSE and IB Diploma Programmes deserves. While we have been keeping last year’s Year 11 and 13 parents informed throughout this time, I think it is important that we share this with all parents now, as a very important context for this year’s results.

This process was different for last year’s Year 11 students’ (I)GCSE courses and last year's Year 13 IB Diploma Programme courses, and I will outline these both in more detail below.

(I)GCSE

In one of their first statements after the exams were cancelled, Cambridge Assessment International Education (CAIE) were very clear about their aims:

"We recognise that students have been working very hard towards these exams. We will be working with schools to assess students’ achievements using the best available evidence. Students will receive a grade and a certificate from Cambridge Assessment International, given the knowledge and skills they have acquired in their programmes of study. This will ensure students do not face disadvantage as a result of these extraordinary circumstances."

AQA and Edexcel made similar statements, with AQA saying that they would “be working tirelessly with schools, regulators and government to make sure young people who were due to take AQA exams this summer still achieve the qualifications they need to progress to the next stage of their lives – and that all the hard work our students and teachers have already put in is properly rewarded” and Edexcel stating that their “focus (was) now on supporting learners to achieve the qualifications they need to progress to the next stage of their lives”.

While there were some differences between the processes followed by CAIE (our main IGCSE exam board), Edexcel (Art, Economics, Further Pure Maths, Foundation Maths, Music and Photography) and AQA (Psychology), I will focus on CAIE’s processes, clearly summarized in the diagram below, taken from their Awarding grades for Cambridge International qualifications in the June 2020 series factsheet.

 

 

HS01

As you can see, in Steps 1 and 2 teachers, and then departments, had to give each student a predicted grade in each subject, defined by CIE as “the grade that, in the professional opinion of the teacher, the candidate would have been most likely to achieve if the June 2020 exam series had taken place”, and then rank the students awarded each predicted grade in each subject. As I wrote to Year 11 parents at the time, these predicted grades and rankings were “based on the school’s assessment of the student’s performance throughout the course, including current Attainment Grades as well as mock examinations, previously assessed pieces, coursework and internal assignments”. At that time I also wrote that we were “pleased that the examination boards have recognised that schools know their students best”.

 

After many hours of meetings, between subject teachers, Heads of Departments/Faculty and Ms Jen (Senior Deputy Head: Teaching and Learning), we submitted our predicted grades and rankings to CAIE. This was followed by a sampling exercise, in which CAIE asked schools to submit the evidence used for a small number of students in some subjects, “to verify that centres have used appropriate evidence to aid their decision making in predicting grades for candidates”, with CAIE then informing us that “the evidence used by your centre was appropriate for all candidates in all syllabuses sampled”.

 

Step 4 was a statistical exercise, which compared our predicted grades in each subject to the results achieved by St Andrews students in that subject in the last three years. As many of you will have seen, this approach, which was the same as that used by all UK based exam boards both for (I)GCSEs and A-Levels, had some issues. While the vast majority of grades our students were initially awarded were consistent with our predicted grades, in some subjects, either in a new subject/exam board for St Andrews or when the number of students entering each year is smaller, leading to less consistent results in previous years, students were initially awarded grades that in no way reflected “the knowledge and skills they have acquired in their programmes of study”.

 

As discontent grew in schools across the UK, and around the world, on Monday last week Ofqual (the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation) made the decision “to award grades on the basis of what teachers submitted”. This was reflected in the Edexcel and AQA (I)GCSE results that last year’s Year 11 students received on Thursday last week, with updated CAIE grades available to students from 4pm last Friday.

 

The two main statistics used by schools to summarise their (I)GCSE results are the percentage of students in each Year Group who achieve 5 or more A*-C (or 9-4) grades and the percentage of all grades awarded that were A* or A (or 9-7). The table below shows how these statistics changed between Step 3 and “Step 5”.

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The graph below, which I will discuss further in the forthcoming Parents’ Information Evenings, shows how each of the last six Year 11’s have progressed during their time in the High School.

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As you can see, each of the last six Year 11s has increased their percentage who have achieved 5 or more A*-C (or 9-4) grades by approximately 20% during their time in the High School, with this year’s final figure of 90% being our highest ever. 

As Ms Jen and Pablo wrote to all of last year’s Year 11 students last week, “We have been working very closely with all of these exam boards since the cancellation of the May/June 2020 (I)GCSE exams in March” and we are very pleased that the Year Group’s final (I)GCSE grades now “fully reflect (their) hard work throughout Years 10 and 11”.


IB Diploma Programme

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As you can see on the graph in the preceding section, our previous best percentage of students who achieved 5 or more A*-C grades was two years ago, when 44% of all grade awarded were A* or A. The photo above, from the Newsletter two years ago, shows many of the 23 students in last year’s Year 13 who achieved an average grade of an A or better in their (I)GCSEs two years ago, so we have always known that this year’s IBDP results would be excellent.

As all IBDP students complete coursework (IAs - Internal Assessments) in every subject, the IB was able to use these as an important part of their model, along with predicted grades as used by the (I)GCSE boards. In a usual year, only a selected sample of IAs in each subject is submitted, and then moderated, by the IB, but this year every students’ IA in every subject was submitted and then marked by IB examiners around the world. As the IB explain:

“The awarding model used student coursework, school predicted grades and school context for final grade award. The school context was not based on previous cohorts’ performance, but instead the relationship between predicted grade accuracy, performance in coursework versus examination components and final outcomes.

As is our normal practice, IB assessment specialists, working with a team of international Chief Examiners, applied standards during marking, and awarding to promote fairness. They worked with over 12,000 international examiners who met in over 300 standardization meetings to ensure reliability. 

These experienced and trained IB examiners marked more than 920,000 pieces of student coursework - examining all student work, rather than only moderating or sampling, aiming to maximize the confidence that every student will receive a fair mark overall.”

While we were pleased with many aspects of the initial IBDP results, with many of our headline figures being in line with our previous best years, we were very disappointed that the results of our highest prior-attaining students, especially in Maths and Science subjects, were significantly below, to use CAIE’s phrase “the grade that, in the professional opinion of the teacher, the candidate would have been most likely to achieve if the June 2020 exam series had taken place”.

Throughout the summer, Mr Will Taylor (Deputy Head: Senior Studies/IB Diploma Coordinator) has been working both with the IB and with colleagues from other Nord Anglia schools around the world and the Nord Anglia Education Team - NAE is one of the largest groups of IBDP schools in the world - to submit both appeals on behalf of individual students and requests for reviews for all students taking a particular subject where this was appropriate.

These review requests, and those from 700 other schools, persuaded the IB to make a significant adjustment to their model, with final subject results being “adjusted to be equal to the internal assessment (IA) result when the predicted grade was only one grade less, equal to or greater than the IA grade” on Monday last week. 

This change, with final grades much better reflecting both our predicted grades and the assessed IAs, has made a significant difference to the IB Diploma Programme points scores of many of last year’s Year 13 students and, while we still have a number of subjects being reviewed, they now much better reflect the excellent IBDP results that we have been expecting for the students in this Year Group for a number of years. The 16 students below all now have current IBDP Points scores of 39 points (out of 45) or more.

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Congratulations to Aashish, Angel, Beauty, Daniel, Destiny, Felix, Ilesh, Kunika, Manon, Marwin, Michelle, Nidhish, Ped, Tar, William and Zakk on their fantastic IB Diploma Points Scores of 39 points or more.

The main statistics used by schools to summarise their IDBP results are the Diploma Programme Passrate, which this year is our highest ever at 93% - an amazing figure for an inclusive IB Diploma Programme in an inclusive school - and the Average Diploma Points Score, which this year is 34 points - equal to our best ever score. The worldwide figures for these statistics are consistently approximately 80% and approximately 30 points respectively.

While it has been a very difficult seven weeks for many of last year’s Year 13 students, and their families, as they have waited to receive results that reflect their hard work since August 2018, we are now much closer to this. I am sure that the students and their families would want to join me in thanking Mr Will for his tireless efforts on their behalf during this time.

As I have mentioned above, we still have a number of subjects being reviewed, so these students’, and others’, final IB Diploma Points Scores may still improve further. In another Newsletter, very soon, I will share the University Destinations of our Graduating Class of 2020, once these are confirmed.

I will discuss both the (I)GCSE and IBDP results more at the forthcoming Parent’s Information Evenings, which we will be holding online this year, on the following dates:

Tuesday 25th August: Year 7 Parents’ Information Evening

Wednesday 26th August: Year 8/9 Parents’ Information Evening

Thursday 27th August: Year 10/11 Parents’ Information Evening

Tuesday 1st September: Year 12/13 Parents’ Information Evening

Tutors should already have e-mailed parents more information about these Parents’ Information Evenings, which will include presentations from me, Mr Andrew (Deputy Head: Student Welfare and Progress), Mr Keith (Director of Learning Technologies) and your son/daughter's Head of Year, before you get to meet your son/daughter's Tutor.

 
New Teachers and LSAs
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Many of our new teachers this year are also Tutors, and you can see their names, photos, Tutor Groups and subjects above.

Those teachers with an * next to their name are now coming to the end of their time in quarantine, with many already involved in teaching their classes via Google Meet. We have been very fortunate to have been able to have fully qualified temporary teachers for all of their classes, including some familiar faces, but I know that the students are very much looking forward to meeting their new teachers in person next week.

I look forward to “seeing you” all at the Parents’ Information Evenings this week and next.

 

Mr Roo

Head of High School