Kings of Wessex Academy send letter to parents over cancelled GCSE
KINGS of Wessex Academy in Cheddar have sent a letter to parents stating that they are withdrawing year 11 students from a GCSE maths exam six weeks before they were due to sit it.
This is a copy of the letter, in full, that was sent to parents, dated October 4.
To all year 11 parents/carers at the Kings of Wessex Academy
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Contact: 01934 316673
Valid until: Friday, February 28 2014
RE: GCSE entry in mathematics for year 11 students at The Kings of Wessex Academy
Further to recent announcements in the press, I am writing you concerning our plans for GCSE in maths for year 11 students.
As you know, for some years we have given students the opportunity to take their GCSE in maths in November of year 11 after a full and intensive preparation programme. The reason for this has been that, in cases where students have done less well than we anticipated, there has been a second opportunity to take the examination in the June of year 11, with the aim of achieving a higher grade following further intestine teaching and practices, and with the benefit of students having already practised the examination once earlier in the year.
This week, with no warning, and with immediate effect, the government announced that only the first at a GCSE would count in the grades publicly reported for schools and academies, and for the purposes of an Ofsted inspection. The government has taken this step because it believes that giving a young person more than once chance to pass an important examination is wrong, and that they should be given only one opportunity.
Given the importance of GCS results for our students, not least as an important core subject, but also to the academy; we believe we have no alternative but to withdraw our students from the November GCSE sitting. This is because we cannot take the risk that some students may not achieve their full potential at the first attempt, given this first attempt will now be the only grades the government and Ofsted will count towards the important published school performance measures. Hence, in November, we will, instead, give students a full practice paper under examination conditions.
The government’s announcement has been made with the specific intention of forcing schools and academies into making a change regarding their examination entry policy, whilst at the same time attempting to relinquish responsibility of this decision by claiming that schools and academies have a genuine choice in continuing to enter students for November exams. To be clear this decision has been made under duress and although we take pride in the reputation of the academy and its Ofsted grading, it is important to state that a significant drop in our published GCSE maths would result in difficulties to recruit and retain the best staff at Kings and in addition, it would reduce the funding that enables us to provide an outstanding education for the young people of the Cheddar Valley.
Following the government’s announcement we have written this week in strong terms to the Department for Education to express our dismay at their untimely decision. In particular we have objected to:
The government’s introduction of this new measure when students are in mid-course, and only a matter of weeks from planned examinations.
The government’s allegation that it is ‘cheating’ to give your child two or more chances to take and pass an essential examination and get a qualification, which is important for them in the future.
The fact that the announcement was made not to the House of Commons, or in the form of a notice on the Department for Education website, in the proper way, but to a Sunday newspaper, leading to many rumours and misunderstandings.
We are aware that other outstanding academies are also taking similar steps. Having expressed our concern about this matter, we would also encourage you, if you feel strongly, to do the same. You can either contact the Department for Education directly, or message your MP directly or via the website www.theyworkforyou.com.
Thank you once again for your continued support. Please be assured that, whatever decision are made in Westminster, we will continue to do everything we can to help your child secure the best possible grades in all his/her GCSE’s.