Reflections on exam results

As this year there was only room for Years 11-13 at Speech Day I thought that I would use my blog to share the reflections I made on our public examination results for 2017.

This year over 65% of all passes were at A*/A grade – this is our second highest figure ever but to put this in context the only time we previously achieved this level was when the A Level exams were fully modular allowing students multiple resits.  This year in many subjects our students were having – for the first time in many, many years – all of their work assessed by a terminal exam at the end of the two year’s work – thus I think that it is fair to claim that these are our best ever results simply on the basis that so many of the exams were one take only.

Our % of A* grades was 28.3% – this is the highest figure achieved by any year group at the High School since this grade was introduced back in 2010 – again a really significant achievement and showing both the quality of our teaching and the hard work and determination of this year group.

38 students gained 3 grade As or better. 12 students gained at least three A* grades – another record.  In addition, this year 13 of our students secured Oxbridge places (8 boys and 5 girls) and whilst Oxbridge is not the first choice for all of our brightest students  we believe that there is no school in the region that was more successful in this respect. The same is true with applications to Medical courses this year with 12 successful in gaining places to read Medicine. Of course, we also had many students getting into their first choice universities with an amazing 80% being in this position and several others able to ‘trade up’ their choice of place following superb results.

When I set out our vision for the School to move to co-education a central part of this was the benefit that it would bring in the classroom.  Our A Level results confirm that this has indeed shown to be the case.  Indeed, the Times newspaper reported that across the country this year mixed schools achieved the best results – a ringing endorsement for the move that we have made.

Another central part of our vision for our move to co-education was to move the School into the top 50 of independent schools across the country.  In terms of League table positions these look primarily at the % of A* and A grades achieved and this year I was absolutely delighted to read that we finished in 35th position nationally – well ahead of all of our local competition (NGHS 137th; Loughborough Grammar 74th; Trent College 147th) and by some way as the top school in the region. Thus, another key goal has been achieved.

Table below created using results taken from the respective School’s websites on results’ day:

School Our results NGHS Loughborough Boys Loughborough Girls Trent
% of passes at A* 28.3% 17% 21% 18.5% 13%
% of passes at A*/A 65.4% 47% 56.1% 46.4% 44%

League tables can be a crude measure of school success but they are useful to us in comparing where we are with respect to the other schools parents in the area have the ability to choose from.  The top of the tables are dominated by schools in London and the South-East, much wealthier areas with many more potential students, but to put our results in context we are in the top six of all independent schools north of Oxford in the same company as prestigious schools like King Edward’s in Birmingham, Manchester Grammar School and RGS Newcastle and ahead of similar schools to ourselves in Bristol, Portsmouth, Leeds, Bath, Exeter, Norwich, Chester, Warwick, Solihull and many other places besides.

One final thought on the A level results.  I went back to the original entrance exam results for all of these pupils to compare how they did then with how they have done in their final exams.  If we look at the grades of the five pupils who came lowest in the initial entrance exam, between them at A level they gained 2 A* grades, 9 A grades grades, 2 Bs and 1 D grades.  Three of them gained three A grades or better. Even more impressively one is heading off to Oxford and another to medical school. This is just another sign of how much value the School adds over the years and just how effective we are at getting the best out of every student – at the High School dreams really do come true.

It is fair to say that at GCSE level I was concerned as to what picture might emerge following some modest mock exam results but I need not have worried and I am delighted to report that we had our best year since 2013. This year an impressive 74.2% of all of our passes were at A* or A grade and almost 48% at A* grade alone. For almost half of all subjects taken to be passed at the highest grade is simply stunning so well done to all of you in last year’s Year 11.  29 pupils (10 more than last year) gained a full set of A* and A grades and nine gained a full set of A* grades. Amongst all the fantastic success we have had this year one factor stands out for me and that is the progress made by some of our GCSE students.  It is fair to say that there were a few in this year group that had a great deal to do after their mocks but thanks to their hard work, the support of their families and the structured support given by so many of our staff so many of them were able to pull their grades up.  There were a few that had originally only been offered provisional places when they joined in Year 7 who were able to secure really positive results and thus will be returning for the Sixth Form.  Education is all about getting the best out of each individual and for many of us on the staff it is these stories of remarkable added value delivered by the school that we find most rewarding.

In terms of the GCSE League tables we again finished as the strongest school in the area and in a very pleasing 74th place nationally – again placing us as the top school in the area.  We were particularly delighted with the progress that many individuals made between the mock exams and the final exams.