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Comfort and relief after U-turn on results by Ofqual

Although A Level time is always a flurry of news stories and heightened emotion, no-one can deny that this year’s story has been one of high drama. Not good drama, either, as the now-infamous Ofqual algorithm affected so many people so unfairly, for reasons which have been well documented in the media. For Whitgift, it means results in line with what we genuinely felt were fair and just, 75% at A or A* and well into the 90%s at A*B. Of course these results are not, and should not be, the subject of league tables, but it brings comfort and relief above all to those Upper Sixth families and students.

Not that it’s all perfect now, mind you. With domestic A Levels now awarded the Centre Assessed Grades, the ‘statistically moderated’ IB stands out all the more as an anomaly. Nor is BTEC affected, though our cohort here did wonderfully well. And of course the unscrambling of some UCAS acceptances and re-negotiating will not be an easy matter.

And yet. Watching the Chair of Ofqual yesterday (his statement was recorded here and is shown at the bottom of this blog), I had to admit that this was a gracious U-turn, and one which acknowledged mistakes. It’s the only way to be, as plenty of us know from experience, when you’ve misjudged a mood or got something wrong. For all those who shake their heads at grade inflation, or who mutter about snowflake generations, there are surely more who would say ‘this cohort have been really badly affected by Covid-19 … cut them some slack for goodness sake’. Amen to that.

One angle on it all did surprise me. A journalist contacted me on Sunday (nothing special here by the way, journalists have been contacting everyone they can think of for the last four days!) to ask if I thought the exams crisis would mean we might not be able to complete plans for reopening. It had never occurred to me. Our leavers (our new OWs) deserved and got (and will get) all the time and energy they need. But the new school population – 2020-21's Whitgiftians – are going to have as full, complete and total Whitgift Life as possible, which will be almost everything, bang on time, and good to go! See you soon.