Twilight Zone- and not the fun one!

I live in a strange old twilight zone between schools and Universities. It’s manifested in my home life and professional lives concurrently, and at the moment, it’s properly bruising my brain.

Scottish Highers and Standard Grades. A levels. GCSEs. They’ve all been cancelled this year and SATs have been stopped for children in Year 6. There are some major implications for each of these groups but this week (and today particularly) I’ve been a little bit bombarded by A level results.

My husband (a Head of Group in the outreach and admissions bit of the uni) works at a University and today has gone off there for training on how they’ll run phonelines for clearing over the coming few days. They’ve had the results at the Uni since Saturday and people in the admissions team have been working tooth and nail trying to sort out all of the places, workout how many spaces there are in clearing and then see if concessions can be made in offers etc. There is a lot of work that goes on prior to kids getting access to their results, which is tricky enough in a ‘regular’ year where a global pandemic hasn’t messed everything up. This year it’s a whole other world of pain for everyone involved.

Kids didn’t sit their exams. Unis know this and are working with what they have already. Scotland had a bit of a mare to say the least with the release of their results and have back-tracked. Predictions and statistical modelling have overly impacted on bright students from wobbly schools by down-grading them to a higher measure than those at already high-achieving schools. The same is true in the English system from what I understand and from what my husband knows so far.

So why are the grades so very different from what people would have expected? In all honesty, I don’t know and I don’t know if there is a way in 5 months of making a system that is particularly good. But what I don’t get, is why- after results come out- they are changing the model they used. It doesn’t make sense?! Surely, looking at kids’ expected progress and tweaking a little to consider teacher’s predictions is a better way of doing it than looking at schools as a whole because that doesn’t allow for changes of head, progress made by schools that shows an upward trend (and also downward trends). It just all seems a bit bonkers!

And now unis have to ‘hold places’, or some such thing.

I just wish that people in the educational establishment had actually been teachers, or worked in HE, or at least had more experience of education than having been to school as a kid.

I feel like they’d have a little tiny bit more of a clue!

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