ALC counts the cost

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PUPILS at the Dearne ALC who were expected to, but failed to achieve C grades in English GCSEs due to late and controversial grade-changes, may be stuck with their D grades, while their Welsh counterparts who used the same exam board are upgraded to Cs.

Up to 25 pupils at the Dearne ALC suffered the loss of predicted grades, to be left with uncertain futures, as the beleaguered Goldthorpe school that was given Notice to Improve by Ofsted earlier this year, was left reeling from the grade change impact on English results, by the WJEC Board.

All exam boards, it seems, had been instructed by watchdog Ofqual to review a large number of ‘C’ grades, just two weeks before results were posted.

Assistant principal at the ALC, Tom Hope, said: “We are watching developments with great interest, to see what the implications of the leaked letter by Edexcel could mean for our students.

“This is an unsatisfactory situation that would appear to be politically driven. if grades had not been altered, 47 per cent of our students would have achieved grades A* to C in English this year, comfortably above our floor target, from 32 per cent last year. Given our position with Ofsted the results are critical for the school, although it is our pupils’ outcomes that are the primary concern.”

There is upset too, over perceived inequality issues during the conversion of marks for controlled assessments, that appeared to give higher attaining pupils an unfair advantage.

Maths was highlighted by Ofsted for improvement at Dearne ALC, and GCSE results this year were unprecedented. Since 2008, when just 24 per cent of pupils scored grades from A* to C, the school saw 54 per cent of pupils score top grades this summer.

A total of 15 pupils gained the GCSE while in Y8, and two, Michelle Chong, 13, of Goldthorpe and Quinn Hanley, 13, of Thurnscoe, achieved A and B grades.

And of 39 students who secured C plus grades in maths in Y9, seven achieved a B. All are now striving towards A grades this academic year,

Mr Hope said: “These results were the culmination of hard work over four to five years. We concentrate on stage rather than age in maths, so when pupils are deemed ready we allow them to enter exams.”

Small class sizes for borderline pupils have also helped towards better results, he added.

As the new Y11 cohort are on track to do even better in 2013, with 32 per cent currently at top level, compared to 28 per cent for last year’s intake at this time, the trend of improvement looks set to continue. However, the outcome regarding the marking of English papers is yet to be seen.