A-LEVELS 2020: ‘There is no rhyme or reason to the grades dropping’ says LVS Ascot principal

LVS Ascot
LVS Ascot headteacher Christine Cunniffe Photo by Liz Finlayson/Vervate

THIS year’s A-level results are ‘bittersweet’ for the principal of LVS Ascot school. 

Christine Cunniffe said that while they were happy with the results, they don’t reflect the true picture of what the sixth formers achieved over their two years of study. 

“It’s a bittersweet day,” she said. “Our headline figures are brilliant, but the individual cases are heartbreaking. 

“They should have been given their grades, in many cases there is no rhyme or reason for the grades dropping.”

She said that her colleagues had been doing what they could offer pastoral care to affected students.

“We had a team in this morning, calling children,” she said. “It is so frustrating for us – the Government has caused this. They’ve cancelled a press briefing today – they’ve dumped and run.

“Where are the reassurances to children that they can appeal?

“It is not a good outcome for children.”

Ms Cunniffe did feel that the grades needed ‘checks and balances’ but that circumstances around the 2020 results, due to the coronavirus pandemic, meant that some leeway should have been shown. 

“This is an unusual year, why disadvantage the children? They will always be known as the Covid year.

“Statistics are one thing, but the way children are feeling? That has to come first. It’s about the individuals, not the numbers.

“Our primary aim for our pupils is to look after them,” she added. 

Schools will go through a similar situation next Thursday with GCSE results, and Ms Cuniffe pledged to do whatever was needed to help affected pupils at her school, including booking exam resits, and being flexible in their approach.

“Every single child at LVS Ascot is treated as if they are our own,” she said. 

“The pupils have worked really hard, and lockdown has been hard. They’ve had to do as they’re told, they’ve missed out on holidays and the things they would normally go on. But the way they’ve handled themselves? I’m really proud of them.”

The school kept lessons going during lockdown: they had embarked on a project to offer online learning in January so, with three days notice, switched everything to Microsoft Teams. 

“We’ve been able to continue with education, and deliver pastoral support. It’s important to keep their minds healthy,” she said. 

The school will be back in September “with all checks and measures in place – we’re raring to go. Should there be another lockdown, we’ll continue with what we were doing”. 

But for now, Ms Cunniffe called for the government to put English and Welsh schools on a level playing field with Scotland after the Scottish government announced changes to its grading system. 

“It’s not fair,” she said, adding that if there wasn’t action from Westminster, some kind of legal challenge should be mounted. 

“We are where we are, and it’s time to put it right and then get back to normal next year.”

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