“If my future were determined just by my performance on a standardized test…”

“If my future were determined just by my performance on a standardized test, I wouldn’t be here. I guarantee you that.”

Michelle Obama

The rise in child and youth mental health issues is well chronicled. Recent world events have added to anxiety and frustration for the young in our communities. President Macron commiserated with 20 year olds earlier this week, but I think we should also think about all young people.

This week the UK government announced its plans for GCSEs and A level. The Scottish Government also made its plans public. In Scotland one set of exams, the National 5s have been replaced with school assessment tasks and teacher assessed grade information. The situation in England is slightly different with exams being delayed and optionality being introduced in some subjects. I should explain, optionality is not whether or not you take the exam, it is an opportunity to take parts of an exam. Many politicians and some headteachers have welcomed the approach and believe that exams provide the best and fairest means of assessing competence in a subject. I am not so sure. Exams have a place and I do believe that we should check that once learned something can be done. It is important for skills to be embedded and competence regularly checked, I’m not sure you have to sit in a hall in the summertime to do this. As a pupil I liked exams. I had a good short-term memory (now I can’t find my glasses in the morning so I’m very pleased not to be taking exams), I could write quickly, and I enjoyed argument. They worked for me, but quite frankly my competence in exams bears little relation to my ability to teach. The coursework that existed in previous incarnations of the exam system is not the answer. Such exercises turned into another form of academic high stakes poker. More stress, more anxiety. Some cope, others do not. Of course, much of the pressure placed on young people to “do well in exams” is that grades provide universities and employers with a handy measure of something (an ability to do well in exams?). It is inescapable that school league tables mean that exams have become an area to be gamed in what is an increasingly marketized area of society – after all a school with great exam results must be a good school. Perhaps mental health statistics should be issued alongside the other league tables, measuring on one facet of school performance is a lopsided way to judge value.

Exams, tests and quizzes all have their place. Classwork is valuable but rarely formally acknowledged. We should be looking to measure progress as much as an ability to perform at an endpoint. Sometimes we have to work alone and under pressure. Collaborative working is equally as valuable. Failing constructively is perhaps the best way to prepare our pupils for the future. I’m just not so sure that trusting in the exam and the exam alone is a sensible way to understand the competencies, skills, talents and achievements of our young people.

Before the summer there will be modification to what has been proposed. I rather hope that those who pull the levers of policy change will take this once in a lifetime opportunity to change for the better. In a time of crisis and turmoil how good would it be to produce something of which we can be proud?

Nicholas Hammond

Headmaster

www.britishschool.fr

“It is the combination of reasonable talent…”

“It is the combination of reasonable talent and the ability to keep going in the face of defeat that leads to success.”

Martin Seligman

One of the perks of my job is that I move between the Senior School and Junior School campuses. How lucky I am to experience the riverbank (albeit briefly) and the shrub lined, bird filled access road up the side of the Junior School. This morning, in the fine drizzle I saw the tiniest of snails on the large green lamp post by the back gate. If the snail was endeavouring to reach the top of the lamp, then I thought he was being just a fraction optimistic.

In educational literature there has been an awful lot written about grit and determination in recent years. Authors such as Paul Tough and Angela Duckworth have written extensively on the topics and in doing so have had bestsellers on their hands. Another subject that is also mentioned from time to time is that of optimism covered admirably by writers like Martin Seligman. The current school year has thrown up so many questions and interruptions that we could very well be forgiven for looking ahead with a real lack of cheer for the future, for chucking away any pretence at grit and giving up on determination. We could all be snowflakes… parts of the media would have us believe that our young people already are. That is not what I see.

This morning I had the great pleasure of reading one of my favourite books to Nursery. When I say I read it; I was only allowed to after I had answered two important questions. Thus, having admitted to a favourite colour and identified my favourite flavour of ice cream we made a start on The Gruffalo. If you ever want a definition of optimism and confidence that life is most definitely being lived to the full you will find it in our Nursery class and perhaps in The Gruffalo we find a useful example of how to negotiate the coming weeks and months. The central figure of the mouse shows all of the other animals of the wood that whilst caution is a very good thing, we need to be careful of how far we allow that caution to define our actions. The mouse remains optimistic despite the danger being faced. When put in a difficult situation the mouse finds a way around the threat. Ultimately the mouse remains safe because of his sensible precautions and a thoughtful approach to the peril faced.

Today’s Junior School assembly dealt with determination and endeavour, two of our school values. Mr. Potter talked about crossing bridges. We have some rickety old dangerous bridges that we have to cross and we have others that feel far safer. These two values will serve us well as this long term continues. Back in Nursery I saw the fantastic work that has been done creating butterflies from coffee filter papers by the children. Bright symbols of optimism in this world. This is a difficult time for our young people, many of them remain optimistic despite the threat of many activities they enjoy being curtailed, their resilience is inspiring.

Nicholas Hammond

Headmaster

www.britishschool.fr

The cold never bothered me anyway – Elsa

Schools are strangely weather dependent. Whilst we have buildings that are warm in the winter and cool in the summer the weather plays a significant part in school life. Any teacher will tell you that pupils behave in a different way when it is a windy day. Rain changes things significantly if only on a practical front. Everyone knows that a snow day is something different again. We’ve been most fortunate to have a wonderful run of sunny weather during September, but the last few days have ushered in not only an autumnal chill but “proper” rain. Perhaps as a British School this is our natural meteorological state, but I have to admit it has come as something of a shock.

A rainy day should not stop the normal functioning of a school, but it does lead to differences in the school day. We have designated areas for the pupils to go to, outdoor lessons are subject to rapid adaptation and certainly on the Senior School site there are faster transitions between buildings. This year will be different as a consequence of COVID. I think that this year we will have our windows open for a little longer in the year than normal and we will be ventilating our classrooms a little more actively. This week the German Premier was reported to be an enthusiastic proponent of Lüften or house airing. The same is true for schools; good ventilation has to be one of the most important ways that we can protect ourselves against the virus. This may be the sort of activity that Mrs. Merkel described as impact ventilation or Stosslüften. Her third and final suggestion Querlüften or cross ventilation may very well mean that we need to invest in paperweights for classrooms! We can open windows and we can use ventilation systems to bring the fresh air in, the means seem immaterial, the action is everything.

Similarly, time spent outdoors has to be a good thing. I am fortunate to be able to hear the sounds of break and lunchtime from my study and in the last few weeks it has been a great joy to hear voices where during lockdown there were none. We will still be asking pupils to spend their break and lesson times out of doors believing that this is an essential element of a safer school day. As the weather gets chillier, we will have fewer outdoor classes, but our rooms may well be colder with the windows open or the ventilation systems turned on. At the risk of sounding like a throwback from the 1940s it may well be time for people to ensure that they have appropriate vests to wear under their uniform. I picked up another word over the course of this week Friluftsliv apparently coined by the Norwegian playwright Ibsen. It is the idea that time spent out of doors in fresh air is essential for well-being even if it means adopting a positive winter mindset and a pair of long-johns. I think that we could learn a thing or two from this approach. The Norwegians are also great fans of the idea that there is no such thing as bad weather simply inappropriate clothing (apparently it rhymes in Norwegian) so I’d encourage everyone to make sure that they have appropriate wet weather clothing now and warm clothing for when winter bites.

To coin a phrase from somewhere else, winter is coming. We need to be ready to make the most of it, it is an opportunity not to be missed.

Nicholas Hammond

Headmaster

www.britishschool.fr

Clarity Day by Day

Clarity is in short supply at present. Political leaders are either changing their minds about what we should do or simply ignoring what is going on around them. Journalists continue to publish conjecture and give voice to views, however outlandish as long as it is about COVID-19. And schools, what clarity exists for this academic year? What is in store? What do we think that we are going to do?

Take it one day at a time. There is so much uncertainty around we should encourage pupils to make the most of today and prepare for tomorrow. There doesn’t seem a lot of value in thinking that we are going to be able to do all of the things that we normally do, so taking things day by day and week by week means that we can plan in line with the latest advice and be agile in the face of change. We should look to celebrate each day, all that has been achieved and what has been learned.

Table Tennis Club

Do as much as we possibly can. It is vital that our young people have as normal an experience as possible. Those who can come into school should and they should experience as wide a range of school activities as they are able, safety permitting. We do have some clubs running at lunchtime, there is limited sporting activity and it was good indeed to see some of our peripatetic music teachers coming through the gates again this week.

Push on as far as we are able. We have to accept that we could be asked to close at very short notice and that we may, once again, be learning remotely. However good our offer there is a progress penalty when learning is remote. Yes, some may very well flourish and maintain their results, but we will never really know what they would have learned about themselves by sitting an exam in a hall or had the chance to work with someone else on a project. We may not be venturing far from the school campus in the coming months, but this gives us the chance to use our time in the classroom to best effect.

Look after each other and build relationships. Our school is a happy and supportive environment. I’d be a liar or a fool if I did not admit that there are individual acts of unpleasantness but for the most part, for the vast majority of the time, our community is one that radiates friendship and in which support is palpable. We must invest in our friendships and bask in the warmth of companionship. A sign of a successful education is leaving with academic accolades and lifelong relationships in equal measure. We must take the opportunity to make the most of the time that we have together.

Be grateful for what we have: If this current situation has taught us anything it is the fragility and preciousness of what we have. Coming back from lockdown I can’t tell you how many pupils told me they had missed school. Some were as surprised at saying this as I was at hearing it, but strange things happen when something is denied to you. We’ve just had the most glorious spell of weather, the school grounds are looking wonderful and we have space to simply be and grow.

And we are here, learning together. I couldn’t really ask for a lot more than that at present. In this I do have clarity.

Nicholas Hammond

Headmaster

www.britishschool.fr

“I think that when we know…”

“I think that when we know that we actually do live in uncertainty; then we ought to admit it; it is of great value to realize that we do no know the answers to different questions. This attitude of mind – this attitude of uncertainty – is vital to the scientist, and it is this attitude of mind which the student must first acquire.”

Richard P Feynman

The modern world isn’t terribly good at uncertainty. We as a species have often seen ourselves as the measure of all things, the solvers, the knowers. Progress is regularly seen as a march of progress, we are always going forward, going faster and getting better. Both the start of term and the COVID pandemic are moments in all of this certainty when we, like Feynman, realise that we don’t have all of the answers.

At the start of a new term and particularly if it is a new school then many things are uncertain. Simply finding your way around presents challenges, this year made all the more difficult by a new one-way system. You are never quite sure where you need to be and when, you might not know exactly what is expected of you. Happily, if my less than scientific observations are true, then those who were new a couple of weeks ago now seem comfortably at home.

In class I hope that as pupils grow in confidence they will begin to relish uncertainty. Without a feeling of not knowing there can be little chance of experiencing the thrill of discovery, the satisfaction of understanding something new. If our pupils came knowing everything then there would be little point in spending each day in our school by the Seine. A truly worthwhile school experience is one that allows pupils to ask why and then affords them the opportunity to find out the answers.

What will happen this year, no-one really knows. Studies will be interrupted, we may see year groups sent home, we could even be placed in lockdown once more. Some activities will be restricted or curtailed. I hope that we can find ways to work around and take a different approach rather than simply cancel, I suspect our pupils will come up with some original ideas to overcome the challenges that they face. Staff are working hard to ensure that whilst different the experience of school is still rewarding and fulfilling.

In the coming weeks it is highly likely that our approach will change. Some activities will continue, others will take a different form. Some pupils will be asked to remain at home and isolate, there is an outside chance that we may be asked to close our doors once again. In the midst of this upheaval I am sure our pupils will ensure that they make the most of every opportunity and all classroom experiences. Perhaps this is a year when we give ourselves to uncertainty, we use each moment to its fullest extent, and we seize every opportunity to learn.

Nicholas Hammond

Headmaster

www.britishschool.fr

Real Superheroes Wear Masks

As much as I never thought I would ever be walking around school wearing a mask, I also never thought that I would be looking forward to a week of hot fine weather with the degree of trepidation I currently feel. Rain is usually the meteorological challenge that I fear with the associated steamy classrooms and muddy shoes that follow. Next week we are told that temperatures will rise into the 30s and there is no sign of a relaxation of rules on mask wearing for our older pupils and staff.

Wearing a mask when teaching is a bind, wearing one while learning is no less of a bind. There are some splendid examples of home crafter face coverings and the now ubiquitous hospital light blues that we have become so familiar with. But there is no escaping the fact that wearing a mask makes teaching more difficult. To mitigate my rising irritation with having to cover up I have taken to reminding myself that in wearing my mask I hope that I am protecting other people. Our School holds the concept of service as one of its values. By wearing a mask, we recognise that school value. I also consider the individuals who have given so much of themselves in helping others; front line carers, those who have kept food shops open and others providing essential services such as education. Our masks are therefore a tribute to all who have stepped outside the safety of confinement to support other people. I take the opportunity to remind myself that many people have had to endure far greater discomfort than I feel wearing a mask by contracting this virus. We live, it has often been said, in uncertain times. By wearing a mask, I believe that we are doing something practical and useful, it is a simple act that perhaps provides stability. Seeing so many pupils simply getting on with their learning behind their masks is inspiring. Proof, if needed, that superheroes really do wear masks.

Our approach to re-opening has been one rooted in caution. I am pleased to be able to report that as we move further into term, we will be able to offer a wider range of activities on site. Please do keep checking the website for information. I thank all of my colleagues for their support in this and parents for their patience. As we move into the new normal, we must acknowledge that all our plans could be suspended at very short notice. Should a school-wide measure be necessary then I will inform you by means of a group called letter. Please do take a moment to check that the contact details that we have are accurate.

This has been a most successful first full week of school. Our pupils have made a positive start to their learning this year and they have coped with good humour when new rules and approaches have been instituted. We are trying to ensure that their experience this year is as close to that of every year while keeping them as safe as possible.

Nicholas Hammond

Headmaster

www.britishschool.fr

It’s the same… but different

We live in a changed world. We may not know how long lasting these changes are, but we can be in no doubt that things are different at the start of this year in comparison to last. Starting term wearing a mask, unthinkable a year ago, acceptable now. Performance in academic subjects assessed without an exam, bizarre a year ago, is the reality of today. The Roman writer Tacitus records that before the final stand of the Caledonian tribes against the might of the Roman Empire at Mons Graupius AD 83, the leader of the tribes says the Romans “create a desolation and call it peace”. Coronavirus has affected every community in the world in some way and now it is time for us to decide what we are going to do about building our world once again. The virus is not a conquering imperial power, so it is perhaps a little melodramatic to call it desolation, but it is certainly fair to observe that much has been dismantled. We have a valuable moment to take stock.

As communities we have to decide if we are going to accept cancellation and isolation or if we are going to find new ways to build connections and to provide support. We can choose to be positive about the challenge or negative. There is room to be both as George Bernard Shaw put it: “Both optimists and pessimists contribute to the society. The optimist invents the aeroplane, the pessimist the parachute.” I have been inspired by recent sporting endeavours – the cricket matches between England and the West Indies and more recently against Pakistan have shown that we can enjoy the things we do and we can be inspired by the actions of others, even in a biosphere. The Tour de France and La Course provide us with similar hope. The issue of when to return to the workplace is one under scrutiny in many countries. Some organisations will have people at home until well after Christmas but in the case of schools there is a different approach. We can debate the motivations of governments over the timing of school reopening and the new levels of protocols in place, but I firmly believe that it is better to be educated in a school than to be educated remotely. In saying this I’m making an important distinction between education and teaching. We have demonstrated that technological tools are invaluable in facilitating the delivery of lessons and we know that academic progress can happen (very effectively) via remote learning. What can’t be learned remotely is everything else that happens in schools “around the edges”. All schools have a hidden curriculum, all schools talk about educating the whole person, we all talk about holistic education. Schools are face-to-face places. It is difficult to replicate the social interactions that take place at break times or during lunch, team sports, music, drama, debate can all be done but without all being in the same place (albeit appropriately distanced) it is, quite simply, not the same. Character develops more when we are in real rather than virtual situations.

I am choosing to look at the coming year with a significant degree of hope and optimism. We have the opportunity to relish the opportunities that being in school provides. Nothing makes you appreciate something like coming close to losing it. Whilst there will be challenges along the way we owe it to ourselves to make the very best of the situation that we face. Now perhaps is time not for a wringing of hands but for a rolling up of sleeves.

I’m delighted to extend the very warmest of welcomes to those families who have joined our community for the start of term. We are looking forward to working with you this year and hopefully for many years to come. The BSP community is one that is welcoming and I’m sure that this newsletter will give you a clear picture of all that we do.

Bonne rentrée.

Nicholas Hammond

Headmaster

www.britishschool.fr

Start of Term arrangements 2020 – COVID precautions special

As August draws to a close we are looking forward to having pupils back on site for the start of the Autumn Term. Over the last couple of weeks I have had a number of enquiries as to how school will operate and the nature of our COVID prevention preparations.

It is hoped the following FAQ sheet is useful.

Is School compulsory in September?
Yes. Schools in France are open, and we are following the directive from the Education Ministry. We start term on Thursday 3rd September.

Whose rules do you follow: the French Government or as a British School do you follow the British rules?
We follow the guidance given by the French Ministry of Education. The most recent advice came out this week.

What about pupils with underlying health conditions?
If you are at all concerned about an underlying health condition, then you should discuss this with your doctor. If the doctor says that your child should be absent, then of course absent they must be.

Will the School be publishing online lessons when the school is open?
We understand that some people are restricted in their movement as a consequence of quarantine and travel restrictions. In order to assist with learning, materials will be posted on Frog (our VLE) for pupils to look at while they are unable to attend. We are not offering remote/virtual school while school is open.

What happens if there is a diagnosis of COVID in the School Community?
Should we be unfortunate enough to have a diagnosed case of COVID-19 we will make parents aware and will follow the direction of local health officials as to the next steps. In such a situation there would be a very high likelihood of the school having to close at short notice for a number of days.

Please do let us know if you are suffering from COVID-like symptoms or if you have a family member who has tested positive. It is vital that we are able to make parents and guardians aware of the risk in our community.

Are you maintaining entry checks?
Yes. Each pupil and each member of staff will have their temperature taken on entry. A temperature of 38°C or above will mean a child (or member of staff) will be sent home and we would anticipate a medical check taking place immediately after.

My child seems unwell or is running a temperature before coming to school or the evening before school. What should I do?
Please do not send your child to school if they appear to be unwell. We would urge caution with all health-related concerns at this time. Please take a safety-first approach for the benefit of the community and keep your child at home.

Who wears masks?
Pupils from Year 7 and above are obliged to wear a mask at points during the school day. We strongly advise parents to provide their children with two masks per day.

What about Junior School, can’t Junior school pupils wear masks? If a Junior School pupil wants to wear a mask, then they can. It is not obligatory for them to do so.

All staff will be wearing masks although these may be removed when pupils are a sufficient distance from them to be safe. Teaching is more difficult when a mask is worn so at times (and only when safe to do so) a teacher may remove their mask.

How should masks be worn?
Parents are asked to discuss “proper mask protocol” with their children if they choose to or have to wear masks. There is a great deal of useful information to be found on
https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/when-and-how-to-use-masks. We will reinforce the do’s and don’ts at school.

What measures are in place to keep children safe during the school day?

• Where possible we are observing the 1M distancing rule between children
• We are avoiding bringing large groups of children together
• We are wherever possible keeping year groups separate
• One-way systems will be in operation
• There are clear floor markings to guide pupils around on safe routes and to maintain safe distancing
• We will be encouraging pupils to wash their hands during the course of the school day
• The School has multiple hand gel dispensers
• The School has an enhanced evening cleaning regime so as to ensure that the School is disinfected each day.
• Teachers and older pupils will be wearing masks
• In the Junior School those who have PE during the day should come in their PE kit
• In the Senior School social distanced changing spaces are available.

How will lunch work?
We will offer a full cooked lunch. During the lunch period it is difficult for the 1M gaps to be maintained and masks will have to be removed. We will be staggering entry to the refectories and we will control the number of people using the dining facilities carefully.

What about bus users?
Bus users of all ages must wear a mask and where possible should observe the miss-one-seat rule.

Should we still wear uniform?
In the Junior School we will start the year with a slightly adapted uniform – boys are not required to wear ties or heavy school jumpers. Junior School girls should wear summer uniform. They do not need a cardigan. On days when PE is taught pupils may arrive and leave in their school PE kit.

In the Senior School we will be in “shirt sleeve” uniform. It is likely to be warm for some time, so school jumpers and ties are not required.

Sixth Form pupils should wear appropriate clothing for the professional workplace but do not need to wear ties. Button front shirts and blouses are recommended. Clothing that requires over the head removal is considered less safe.

One key element of staying safe is being able to have clothing washed on a regular basis.

Are you running a full programme of co-curricular activities?
As far as we are able, we will be running activities. Some activities will have to work with restricted numbers or using an amended approach. Details about the Junior School sign up will follow. The Senior School activities fair will take place on Friday 11th September.

What happens at break time?
The timings of break will be staggered in the Junior School so as to avoid large congregations of children. In the Senior School, year groups will occupy their own zone. Sadly, we aren’t quite ready to have football etc played at break time.

What happens at the end of the day?
We may need to stagger exit times so as to avoid large groups assembling.

What about quarantine measures?
Parents and Guardians are asked to consult with the relevant governmental websites to ensure that they have the most up to date list of countries that require quarantine. A good place for information is this website: https://www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/en/coming-to-france/coronavirus-advice-for-foreign-nationals-in-france/

Parental Access to the School
Access to the school campus will be restricted for the foreseeable future. Details will be provided by the relevant Heads of School for particular events.

I am still not sure what I should do, or I still have questions – who should I ask?
We know that advice seems to be changing on a daily basis and that there are conflicting reports about do’s and don’ts. We follow the lead provided by the local and national authorities. We can try to answer your questions about the practicalities of life in school. We can’t argue about the conflicting views that are out there. Our underlying approach is that we will do all we can to provide a safe learning space that is also an inspirational learning space.

Nicholas Hammond

Headmaster

www.britishschool.fr

GCSE Results 2020 – FAQs

Tomorrow (20th August) is the release date for GCSE exam results.  As everyone will be aware this has not been a normal year and the following is hoped to be a useful guide to coping with the many conflicting reports about grading this year.

How have my grades been calculated?

Ofqual, the exam regulator, has announced that you will be given a grade based on work completed before the school went into lockdown including your January mock exam grades this is called the Centre Assessed Grade (CAG).  In May teachers were asked to provided Centre Assessed Grades (CAGs) and the plan had been to feed these through an algorithm that would have adjusted every school’s grades to reflect what might have happened in a “normal” school year. 

Ofqual has announced that most grades awarded this year will be based on the Centre Assessed Grade.

So, no algorithm?

Yes and no.  The algorithm has been applied to your GCSE result.  But the grade you see on Thursday will be either

a) The Centre Assessed Grade

or

b) The exam board grade (which is the CAG with the algorithm applied because that grade is higher than your original CAG submitted by the School in May.)

In other words – if your CAG would have been pulled down by the algorithm then you will get the higher school generated grade but if the CAG was brought up by the algorithm then you will be awarded the higher processed grade. 

The higher grade will always be the awarded grade.

I’m planning to move to another school in September and they want to see my grades.  What do I send?

Tomorrow we can give you your mock grades from January, your CAG from May and your final grade.  Most schools will want to see your final grade, and this is likely to be the best grade that you have.  If you have any concerns, then we will be happy to support you and can discuss your results with your new school.

I’m disappointed with my grade.  What do I do?

Firstly, talk to us and we can see what we can do to help you.  If you think you could do better than what you have been given there will be a full suite of retakes in the Autumn – GCSE exams will be offered in November.  The appeals system is still being worked out, currently an appeal can only be launched on procedural grounds.

Should I come in to collect my grades?

Yes, please do, it would be great to see you. We are open from 09:00am.  You can collect your results from the Exams Office in the Braille Building.

If you do not come to school and your grades do not arrive via email, then please make contact with the Exams Office. 

I would like to talk about my A level choices for next year.

Great.  Mr. Abdou and Mr. McCann are on hand to assist with plans for Year 12.

Are my grades worth less than other years?

No, don’t be ridiculous.  You worked for these grades and they are true reflection of your commitment and talent.  Be proud of all that you have achieved and use these as a springboard for future success. 

19 August 2020

Nicholas Hammond

Headmaster

A Level and GCSE results 2020 FAQs

This year the awarding of exam results has taken a number of unexpected turns.  The following is hoped to provide some clarification for parents and students who are in receipt of A Level grades or are awaiting GCSE grades.

A Level

I seem to have been given two sets of results, which are my actual results?

The exam boards have been instructed to make a final exam grade award on the basis of Centre Assessed Grades.  Centre Assessed Grades or CAGs are the grades that were submitted to the Boards in May 2020.  In due course you will receive a certificate with these grades recorded on it.

Can my grades go down as a consequence of this change of approach?

No.  The good news is that if the CAG is lower than the grade that you were given on Thursday of last week by the Board then the higher-grade stands.

Is my CAG the same as my UCAS predicted grade?

No.  Your predicted grade was given in September 2019 and your CAG was given in May 2020.  Your predicted grade for UCAS reflects what your teachers think you could get at A Level.  The CAG is a grade that reflects the evidence that you had provided in summer exams (2019), mocks and most importantly work done up until the time that school was suspended for the COVID shut down.

Can I see my CAGs?

Yes, CAGS were embargoed until results day, but you can see them now – contact the exams office for a copy.  Grades can only go up at this point.

What about university and college places?

If you were accepted by your first-choice university on Thursday, then that agreement still stands no matter what your grade is today.  If your grades have improved, then you may consider clearing/UCAS extra.  Please make contact if you are worried about this.

How has this affected the BSP?

Last week we were told that 29 CAGs had been downgraded by the exam boards.  Those students will be able to use their CAG as their final exam grade. Nine pupils had their CAGs increased by the exam board, their higher grade (the one given on Thursday of last week) will stand.

There is no change for the other pupils.

What is all this talk of university caps?

As the national picture has improved more students have gained the grades they require to move to their first-choice university.  Universities have been given permission to make more places available at their institutions to cope with this new influx of students.

What is the BSP’s A*- C pass rate now?

A*-C – 90.9%. 

A*-A – 40.09%

A*-E – 100%

What about other exams?

Media reports suggest that the International A Level and International GCSE grades have been changed in line with the A Level and GCSE grades (the BSP has always done the “home version” of the exams)

International Baccalaureate results were downgraded earlier in the summer and remain so.

Want more?

UCAS have provided a short video to explain the changes to A Level and the impact on university places  https://twitter.com/ucas_online?lang=en

The view from an ex minister via the Times Educational Supplement (TES) https://www.tes.com/news/gcses-2020-call-delay-results-over-flawed-algorithm

More from the TES including a statement from the Head of Ofqual

GCSE

The GCSE grades will be made public on Thursday 20th August as planned.

The exam regulator Ofqual announced that the plan to apply an algorithm to the results submitted by the School in May (these grades are knowns as Centre Assessed grades or CAGS) will not take place.

What should I do on Thursday?

If you are worried about your grades then please do come into school to discuss them.  Results can be collected from the exams office – Braille Building from 09:00am on Thursday.

What if I am not in France?

Then we are ready to answer questions by ‘phone, video call or email.

Will the Ofqual algorithm be used?

It appears that we will only see the CAGs and the algorithm will play no part in this set of results.

Nicholas Hammond

Headmaster