A-level results day is one of the most stressful periods in a young person’s life at the best of times. But this summer, levels of pressure and confusion have reached a whole new level.
The most important thing to say to our young people receiving their grades today is: well done. You’ve had to deal with an unprecedented situation, and have coped brilliantly well. We at Villiers Park are extremely proud of you.
You’ve missed out on sitting your exams, the culmination of your 14 years in education. You’ve been denied your final days in school or college with your friends and teachers. And your results may well have been decided by a grading system hastily created in difficult circumstances, rather than by your own talents and efforts. The government’s announcement of a major change to the system on the day before students received their results has certainly not helped ease students’ anxiety.
Lots of you have received the grades you richly deserve. George, for example, is one of the students on the Scholars Programme in Hastings. After getting three A* grades, he is going to study natural sciences at the University of Cambridge. He has done brilliantly well, as have so many others. Some students may have, through no fault of their own, ended up with grades which they were disappointed with. If you are unsure about your university options, or what to do with regard to appeals or resits, our teams are on hand to provide support and guidance in the coming days.
The important challenge our education system faces in the coming weeks is to ensure that the Class of 2020 get the grades they deserve. Early analysis of the results day has raised serious concerns: students from lower socio-economic backgrounds were more likely to have the grades proposed by their teachers overruled than those in wealthier areas. And colleges have also raised concerns about an unexpectedly high proportion of their students' grades being altered compared to other sixth-form settings.
At Villiers Park, our goal is to ensure young people from less advantaged backgrounds have the opportunity to succeed and achieve their ambitions. If even more obstacles are being put in their way, this is a serious concern. Educational inequality is never acceptable - our young people deserve better. Social mobility through education was already receding, and this year’s method of awarding A-level grades in England risks setting social mobility back even further.