A question mark hangs over the future of Sheffield GCSE candidates today as exam results are announced.
Schools say marks are ‘volatile’ following major changes at national level, contributing to some of the most unpredictable results in years.
As scores were received yesterday, it was evident that some of the top schools had maintained their performance. But others fear students will be left disappointed.
Changes to the English curriculum two years ago threw estimated grades into confusion – and schools fear this summer’s results will be even more unpredictable.
“Heads are calculating and recalculating the data, and including their vocational courses to clarify the final picture,” said David Bowes, head of Tapton School in Crosspool, which has maintained good progress.
An impressive 78% of its students have achieved five A*-C grades including English and maths: up 3% on last year.
Silverdale was also expecting results to be significantly up across the board. And King Edward VII head Beverley Jackson reported it had maintained its best-yet pass rate of 66%.
Yewlands at Parson Cross, now under the management of an academy chain from Wakefield, is reporting best-ever results of around 50% – compared with 36% last year.
And Sheffield Park Academy on the Manor is expecting to maintain consistent good progress, at around 65%.
But not all schools would do so well, said Mr Bowes: “It is clear that there will be some major disappointments, city-wide, school-wide and worst of all for the individual students. You could say it is Mr Gove’s legacy.”
Dale Barrowclough, head at Forge Valley Academy, Stannington, said he hoped the school had weathered the storm with results similar to last year’s 47%: “But it’s still not quite what we were expecting, although we have seen improvements in some GCSE subjects.”
David Conway at Bradfield was another head to report some of the expected volatility, though he said his school had fared reasonably well.
Exam watchdog Ofqual has predicted ‘grade turbulence’ every year until 2017.
Marks from modules and coursework have been reduced, with more emphasis on final exams. And only the grade achieved at first attempt is now included in league tables.