College forced to reveal secret A-level inquiry results

The college had refused to reveal the results to staff and students up to now

The college had refused to reveal the results to staff and students up to now


A college group’s secretive review of over 1,000 students’ A-level grades, undertaken following protests by parents and learners, led to three-fifths of results being changed.

FE Week has obtained the outcome of New City College’s review into this summer’s results, revealing the extent to which teachers’ grades were changed by senior leaders through moderation.

Staff have yet to be told the results of the review, a local union representative has said, but a local MP argued that so many grades being changed back shows there were “issues” with the original process.

New City College was told about ‘deep concern’ around A-level grades

New City College’s leadership changed a series of A-level grades which teachers had set to ensure they were “consistent, robust and in line with historic performance” from 2017, 2018 and 2019, in line with Ofqual rules.

Yet after many students received worse than expected results, they and their parents picketed Havering Sixth Form College, one of NCC’s A-level providers, questioning why their grades had been changed.

Romford MP Andrew Rosindell wrote to group chief executive Gerry McDonald about his “deep concern” that grades had been “significantly” changed from those teachers had set, while Hornchurch MP Julia Lopez met with the college to discuss the issue.

New City College then announced the review but has refused to reveal the overall results of it to students and staff at the college group’s two A-level centres – Havering and Attlee A-level Academy. McDonald said this was to protect their “competitive position”.

One A-level subject had 85 per cent of grades changed through review

Following a freedom of information request submitted by this publication, it has been revealed 1,168 students were affected by the senior leaders’ moderating grades and the review had led to 685 grades being changed – 59 per cent of the grades awarded.

FE Week has also asked for data on how many grades were upgraded or downgraded during the review, but a college spokesperson said they did not have this information.

The subject with the most changes was history, 74 revisions worth 85 per cent of the total; while the grades with the least changes, English, still had 24 per cent, or 18 results, revised. The full table of results is below.

In response to the review results, a spokesperson for Rosindell said that six in ten grades having been changed is a “clear acknowledgement from the college that there were issues in the original grading process”.

Rosindell “hopes as many of these grades as possible were changed upwards and that the anxiety many of the students feel has been eased,” the spokesperson added.

The National Education Union’s district secretary for Havering, John Delaney, criticised a “worrying lack of transparency” about the way in which the grading process has been managed, saying teachers had yet to receive any communication regarding final grades for students this year.

Staff found out on A-level results day in August that teacher-assessed grades for students, brought in after this year’s exams were cancelled, had been changed by senior leaders and are “puzzled” why only a portion of them have been changed through the review.

Staff are “concerned” by the group’s chief executive Gerry McDonald’s behaviour and his “ability to manage future assessments at the centre,” Delaney added.

College says 93 per cent of students secured first-choice university

In response to Delaney, a New City College spokesperson called his comments about transparency “very surprising, as senior managers have met with more than 100 teaching staff face to face to explain the process and answer any questions”.

McDonald and Havering’s principal, Janet Smith, met with 120 teachers to answer questions on how the review had been run once it was over, the college previously said.

With regards to the comments about McDonald, the spokesperson said: “No such concern has been expressed to us regarding the chief executive.”

New City College’s spokesperson said in response to Rosindell’s comments that over 93 per cent of students have secured places at their first-choice university.

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