A level results 2021: a national shit storm... again
Updated: Aug 12
So it's A level results day 2021, and the end of two years of what, let's face it, has been an utter shit storm. First off let me begin by saying a huge 'CONGRATULATIONS' to ALL the A level students: it's been the most unprecedented of situations and I know from being the mother of one of those students how damn tough it's been. With the Education Minister and his cronies not seeming to know their arses from their elbows when it came to how the A levels were going to be graded/sat/understood this year, it has been a murky time for students and tutors alike, and you should all be proud of what you achieved under the crappiest of circumstances.
My own son began his A level journey in September 2019, and by March 2020, as we all know, just a term and a half into his A level studies, the pandemic hit and home schooling became the new norm. All well and good for those kids who thrived in such an environment, but for the students who needed to be in a physical classroom? Not so much. It's been a whiplash of a ride and with no real idea on what kind of grades were to be expected today, much of it has been a rollercoaster in the dark.
In February 2021, just weeks before the A levels were due to be sat, they were cancelled. Mocks didn't happen, and students were told that their final grades would be assessment based. Boris had this to say... “I completely understand the inconvenience and distress this late change will cause millions of parents and pupils up and down the country..." He didn't understand though, did he? Because he didn't have a son or daughter sitting those A levels. His children weren't left in limbo over their future. It wasn't an 'inconvenience", it was full on panic.
So now let's talk about what has happened today on A level results day 2021. Unlike last year, when an algorithm was used and then abandoned at the last minute because of a giant cock up, this year’s grades were due to be set by teachers and then go through a quality-assurance check by exam boards. Seemed reasonable in the circumstances... except it hasn't panned out like that all. How does my son know this? Because after feeling utterly deflated and sent into a crisis spin at finding out his results today, he then discovers that his tutors are livid, frustrated and madder than box of frogs at the news too. This is a small part of the email one of his tutors sent and, I think, even this snippet speaks volumes:
"From what I can gather, most, if not all students are down on the grade recommended by the *** teaching team. I would suspect that this will have left many of you with grades that were unexpected... I do not know on what grounds the decision was taken to amend the grades by the leadership... I am shocked and disappointed today."
So, Right Honourable Gavin Williamson, what on earth are the excuses this year? Are certain colleges being penalised over others? Where are all these 'record breaking A* results' because one thing is for sure, they're not in this London Borough's colleges. If the tutors are upset over their assigned grades being railroaded, how are the students supposed to feel? Who are these people downgrading results, and are they downgrading in ALL sixth form settings or just the ones that don't demographically fit the Tory dream? My child - and thousands of others - are paying the price for your government's utter incompetence.
How can we have faith in these results - good and bad - when the whole debacle has been such a diabolically handled screw up? Those downgrades have cost my son his university spot and therefore his dreams. Those downgrades have made my son feel a sadness he shouldn't have to feel. If he had not done so well based on transparent grading then fair enough: that would have been on him. But this? This is not only unacceptable but also affects his entire future. We'll never know how he would have done in 'normal circumstances' but we do know that these results are disgraceful in comparison to predictions and efforts put in. Some anonymous muppet somewhere has railroaded tutor recommendations and those affected just have to suck it up? I don't think so.
I know that my son will be okay because we will support him and help him make new decisions and choose new paths. He has appealed already on his results so we can only wait and see on that. One thing is for sure: these results will not forever define him because we won't let that be the case, but they have knocked his confidence and undermined his hard work in a learning environment that has been as far from ideal for him as it was possible for it to be. We're not asking for undeserved high grades, but what we are asking for are fair results that reflect each individual case regardless of what college they went to or what their postcode happens to be. Grades should have been awarded entirely on merit, and I just don't believe that this is the case.
I'm livid right now, but also gutted. The Class of 2021 deserved so much more than the indecisive fiasco they were dealt by moronic politicians who didn't give a monkey's about real people in the real world. Fan faring the 'record results' just makes it so much harder on the kids who have nothing to show for their hard work besides confusion, bitterness and a sense of failure. How I would love to know where, demographically, these record results are...
UPDATE: It would seem that the A level grades were submitted by the experienced college tutors and then the 'leadership' team, backed by the CEO of New City College Group downgraded across the board. Not only is this utterly abhorrent, but also basically suggests that their own tutors do not have the integrity and skills needed to make the fair assessments themselves. Students AND teachers have been treated with utter disregard and disrespect and someone needs to explain why. I have reached out for comment to New City College Group who have so far not responded.
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Top image: London for Kidz