Headteacher: Covid catch-up 'more pressing' than grading system change

Peter Whear, headteacher at Stowupland High School.

Peter Whear, headteacher at Stowupland High School. - Credit: John Milton Academy Trust

A catch-up plan for students hit by the coronavirus crisis is "more pressing" than changing the A-level grading system, a headteacher has warned.

There has been speculation that A-level students will be given numbered grades between one and nine, in line with GCSEs - instead of the current A* to E system currently used.

Stowupland High School headteacher Peter Whear said that if changes are made, there needs to be a “genuine consultation with sensible timescales for implementation”.

“Concerns have been raised about widening gaps in achievement between disadvantaged students and others, between students in private schools and state schools, and between students in different parts of the country," he said.

“Post-16 courses including A-levels, as well as GCSEs, have already been subject to huge reforms over the past few years.

“Adaptations and allowances are also in hand for students planning to sit exams in 2022.

“Further long-term structural reform seems likely, but it is unclear how a change in the grading system alone would close the achievement gaps that have widened as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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"In the meantime, however, there are bigger and more pressing needs.

“The pandemic has undoubtedly hit disadvantaged students and their families hardest.

“In order to address this growing social disadvantage, the government should urgently fund and implement a comprehensive recovery programme in line with the proposals made by Sir Kevan Collins, the former government education recovery commissioner."

Emily Tume and Darcey Graham open their A-level results at Stowupland High School.

Emily Tume and Darcey Graham open their A-level results at Stowupland High School. - Credit: John Milton Academy Trust

Disruption caused by the pandemic meant young people spent several months learning at home, instead of alongside their classmates - reducing face-to-face time with teachers.

There are fears this has been a particular setback for young people at a key stage in their lives.

Mr Whear's comments come after hundreds of Suffolk students collected their A-level results this week

Stowupland High School is part of the John Milton Academy Trust.

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