Private Schools Accused of Taking Advantage of the System

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Dramatic drops in top GCSE and A-level results in England’s private schools this summer had led to accusations that they “gamed” the system last year when teachers awarded grades.

 

Official figures show the proportion of GCSEs graded 7 to 9 in private schools fell from 61.2% last year to 53% this year when pupils had to sit exams – an 8.2 percentage point drop.

 

The difference was three times greater than comprehensive, which saw a 2.7 percentage point decline over the same period.

 

Private schools have also been accused of using their resources to advantageously prepare students for exams, while those in the state sector were disadvantaged by the pandemic.

 

The head of the Independent Schools Council (ISC), representing more than 1,300 private schools in England, has rejected the claims, saying the results were “broadly in line” with expectations.

 

“There is no evidence that schools were gaming the system last year,” said Julie Robinson.

 

But she added that the pandemic had “created enormous challenges for everyone”, and private schools were doing “all they can” to support their students.

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The Exam Regulation Authority (ERA) has launched an investigation into the results after parents and teachers raised concerns about the grade inflation in last year’s results.

 

It looks at whether there was any “malpractice or wrongdoing” in how grades were awarded.

 

A spokesperson said: “We have been clear that no one should be advantaged or disadvantaged due to the pandemic.”

 

The head of the ISA, Julie Robinson, has rejected the claims that private schools “gamed” the system last year, saying the results were “broadly in line” with expectations.

 

But she added that the pandemic had “created enormous challenges for everyone”, and private schools were doing “all they can” to support their students.

 

In addition, the head of the ERA, Amanda Spielman, has said that the authority is investigating the results to see if there was any “malpractice or wrongdoing” in how grades were awarded.

 

According to the DfE, the department is “monitoring the situation closely”.

 

As A levels are still being graded, it is too early to tell what the impact of the pandemic will be on results.

 

However, the proportion of A-level entries graded 7 to 9 – the equivalent of an A* or A – was down 0.5 percentage points last year, while the overall pass rate fell by 0.4 percentage points.

 

The situation is being monitored closely by the DfE, and it remains to be seen what the final impact of the pandemic will be on results.

 

What do you think?

 

Do you think private schools in England have been unfairly accused of “gaming the system” on lockdown exam results? Or do you think the claims are justified? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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