Terrific at the top! Highest grades surge as Queen Elizabeth’s School records a great GCSE performance

Terrific at the top! Highest grades surge as Queen Elizabeth’s School records a great GCSE performance

Boys at Queen Elizabeth’s School put in an exceptional performance at GCSE this year, as the results announced today reveal.

The proportion of pupils achieving levels 8 and 9 – both equivalent to an A* grade under the old system – rose to 82% from 79% last year. This increase was driven by a marked improvement at the very top, with 61% of all GCSE grades at QE being at level 9.

With no GCSE examinations taken this year because of the coronavirus, today’s confirmed results are instead the product of the national moderation process. They show either the grade predicted by an algorithm devised by examinations regulator Ofqual, or, following a Government change in policy announced earlier this week, schools’ own predictions (Centre-Assessed Grades, CAGs) – whichever is higher.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “Given the exceptional circumstances, it is difficult to compare 2020 results with previous years, but it is nonetheless worth noting that, taken at face value, these GCSE results are our best-ever at QE, better even than last year’s record-breaking figures.

“We are pleased that the boys in Year 11 have been justly rewarded for their efforts over the past two years, and I heartily congratulate them and their teachers: their results reflect great application, genuine ability and true scholarship.

“Many are forecasting that the late policy change will result in huge grade inflation nationally, but here at QE there is a strong correlation between the School’s CAGs and the algorithm, both at GCSE and A-level. Very few of our A-level grades were changed, compared to approximately 40% of grades changed nationally last week, and, at GCSE, there is, in fact, a slight increase in the overall figures as a result of the application of the algorithm.

“We have thus avoided much of the turbulence experienced in other schools and colleges. I am grateful to colleagues for their assiduous application of the moderation system that was sent out to schools in April. The stability we have seen in our results, with so few grades having to be changed, reflects the care with which the School approached the task given to us, the robustness of the data we drew upon, and the integrity of the staff involved.”

There was a strong performance in subjects across the board at QE, with, for example, almost three-quarters of the 185 boys in the year group (74%) achieving a 9 in Mathematics, and 85% of the individual science GCSEs (Biology, Chemistry and Physics) also receiving the top grade. Those opting to take Latin, a subject re-introduced at the School in 2012, truly shone: of the 33 boys taking it, 31 (94%) received a 9, with the remaining two awarded an 8.

“The boys can move into the next phase of their education with confidence,” said Mr Enright. “They are now well placed for Sixth Form study – taking with them a very strong set of grades, as well as the benefit of having used their lockdown time productively. They spent the time on bridging work set by their teachers focused on subjects they are planning to study at AS and A-level, on various online work experience schemes, and on taking Eton College’s Eton X programme, which gives a systematic introduction to all the key components of academic research.

“The continuity of their studies will also be aided by Simon Walker again staying with them as Head of Year. He has worked with the year group since they were in Year 10. We look forward to seeing them back in the classroom in September.”

There is, concluded Mr Enright, a clear lesson to be drawn from recent events:  “One thing that should be evident from this summer is the value of exams in providing the most objective judgement available and for the opportunity that they give for young people to show what they can do and differentiate themselves from their peers across the country. All will be hoping that exams can take place as normal next academic year.”