Around a fifth of A level grades changed at South Shields school after 'challenging' year

Students and staff at a South Shields school have been praised for their hard work and committment after a “challenging” and “unusual” year as A level results were handed out.

Harton Academy, in South Shields, is celebrating the success of its class of 2020, with 85% of students progressing to higher education.

Summer exams were unable to take place this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, with pupils instead awarded calculated grades by their teachers.

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These grades then went through a moderation and standardisation process with exam regulator Ofqual, which prompted outcry across the country due to some students missing out on university places after marks were changed.

Students celebrating success at Harton Academy on A level results day.Students celebrating success at Harton Academy on A level results day.
Students celebrating success at Harton Academy on A level results day.

All of Harton’s 117 A level students sitting the exams achieved at least one A* to E grade, with an 83.8% pass rate for students achieving three grades between A* and E.

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It’s thought that around 20% of Harton Academy’s A level grades were changed, according to the school’s Executive Headteacher Sir Ken Gibson, with the team pledging its continued support to those students who were downgraded and may need to launch an appeal.

Sir Ken said: “We are absolutely delighted with the majority of the results which our students have received.

A-level results were handed out on Thursday, August 13.A-level results were handed out on Thursday, August 13.
A-level results were handed out on Thursday, August 13.

"Despite the fact that nationally there were in the region of 40% of grades changed, we had approximately 20% of grades changed at Harton.

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"That perhaps suggests that our internal processes and predicted grades were generally more accurate, although we are still appealing on behalf of a number of our students who were downgraded.

“Our first priority has been, and continues to be, supporting our students in securing their next step, whether that be at university, an apprenticeship, training or employment.

“Our second priority will be to follow through the appeal mechanism for any student we consider to have been wrongly downgraded.

Results day at Harton Academy in South Shields.Results day at Harton Academy in South Shields.
Results day at Harton Academy in South Shields.
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“The students and staff have worked tirelessly as ever and despite the awful and abrupt end to the school careers of our wonderful students, I am immensely proud of each and every one of them.”

Richard Burroughs, deputy headteacher and director of Harton Academy’s Sixth Form hailed 2020 as a “challenging” and “unusual” year for both students and staff – but one which saw the school’s pupils progress both academically and into “well-rounded” people.

At present, 48% of Harton’s A level students are going on to study at Russell Group Universities including Durham, Leeds and Newcastle.

Three of the school’s students will also take on places at Oxbridge in the autumn, with one going to study natural sciences at Cambridge and two studying medicine and geography at Oxford.

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Mr Burroughs added: “We are very proud that are students embrace so many of the opportunities that are offered at the sixth form and we know that students will look back at many fond memories and experiences.

"We look forward to catching up with students at the leavers’ ball and prize evening in December.”

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