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Sittingbourne: Head converts new GCSE grades into letters due to 'extremely confusing' system

By KentOnline reporter

The head teacher of Fulston Manor School in Sittingbourne says he has converted the new numerical grades back into letters due to the "extremely confusing" system.

Alan Brookes said he decided to take the step because just English and mathematics were being graded using the new 9 to 1 marks, with other subjects set to follow suit by 2020.

"We have converted the English and maths numbers into letter grades for ease of comprehension," he said.

Fulston Manor head teacher Alan Brookes with GCSE pupils and their results
Fulston Manor head teacher Alan Brookes with GCSE pupils and their results

"I believe that it is currently extremely confusing to have different ways of representing grades and hope that this will be resolved when all subjects are represented by the same numerical system."

Despite the changes and the increased difficulty of some exams, Mr Brookes said results had improved significantly compared to last year.

“It has been a very challenging year for both staff and students, particularly those embarking on the new style qualifications, and everyone involved deserves great credit for what has been accomplished,” he said.

Fulston pupils with their GCSE results
Fulston pupils with their GCSE results

“It is difficult at this point to give precise figures as there are a number of different measures yet to be calculated nationally but, using the traditional one of five A* to C including English and maths, 55% of the students have reached or bettered this benchmark – an excellent result.”

Elsewhere, at Westlands, Catherine Macauley was among the first exam takers to achieve the new top mark of 9.

She received the highest possible grade – the equivalent of a high A* – for English literature. And she landed 8s in both English language and mathematics, as well as three A*s, an A and two distinction*s.

Westlands head teacher Simon Cox with, left, Libby Etheridge and Hannah Taylor
Westlands head teacher Simon Cox with, left, Libby Etheridge and Hannah Taylor

Overall, pupils performed well in mathematics, with 139 out of 270 getting a 5 or above and 199 pupils achieving 4 or above. A 4 or 5 would be the same as a C. And 170 pupils received a 4 or above in either English literature or language.

Head teacher Simon Cox said he supported the new 9 to 1 system because it meant top pupils could stretch themselves to gain the higher grades.

However, he added: “We still have major doubts about the marking of some subjects, particularly English, so we will be asking for a few papers to be remarked.

"Most importantly, schools should be measured on the progress pupils make during their secondary education and we hope the measure for this, known as Progress 8, will be calculated accurately and used fairly.”

Delighted Highsted Grammar pupils open their results
Delighted Highsted Grammar pupils open their results

There were lots of happy pupils at Highsted where nearly half the grades in GCSE subjects were either A* or A And just over one in 10 of those who sat English and maths received the new top grade of 9.

Among those who did particularly well were Natasha Ali, Katie Dennis, Holly Jones, Rosie Milns, Bethany Misy, Laura Stokes and Heather Wilson who each achieved 11 or more A* or A grades.

Assistant head Frances Tiernan–Powell said: "We are particularly pleased with the resilience that students have shown in a new age of assessment which demands a significant commitment from students and support from teachers to excel.

"We are confident that the students’ performances this year will ensure they are able to further their ambitions in the next stage of their education."

Borden Grammar School pupils who picked up their GCSE results today
Borden Grammar School pupils who picked up their GCSE results today

Eighteen pupils made the new top grade 9 at Borden Grammar - and one, Finley Smith, had 9s in both English and maths.

Along with Finley, those with straight-A*s and As, as well as 7 to 9s, were Thomas Amey, Thomas Bailey, James Creedon-Kitchen, Jordan Lindo, Richard Mills, Harrison Popple, Benjamin Rose, Owen Stacey and Thomas Wood.

Overall, 120 pupils sat GCSEs at Borden and four in every 10 grades were A*, A or 7 to 9.

Head teacher Jonathan Hopkins said he was pleased with how pupils had stepped up to the challenge of the new assessment systems in English and maths.

He added: "In an era of tougher assessment Borden’s students have achieved grades in keeping with previous cohorts and we are delighted for students, parents and staff alike."

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