UCAS Statement June 2016
Blundell’s School Sixth Form has a comprehensive entry with entrance requirements of five GCSEs at C grade or above.
Around 20% of our pupils join in Year 12 from a variety of school backgrounds.
In 2015-2016 most pupils studied for and sat public examinations in four AS subjects, regardless of whether they were reformed or not. As a school we certificate all full AS subjects. The EPQ is also offered as an option.
Generally, pupils only take three A levels forward into Year 13. This gives them the opportunity to concentrate on their subjects in depth.
We aim to ensure that our predicted grades for A level are an accurate reflection of what the pupils will achieve. They are based on their performance at AS level and their aptitude for study shown in the early weeks of the A level course. We would only ever change this where there are exceptional mitigating circumstances and this will be commented on in the reference.
The predicted grades also reflect predicted performance based on their continuation with three rather than four subjects.
National Changes to the A Level Examination System and their impact on Blundell’s School February 2015
As many of you know, the public examination system in England is about to undergo significant reform in the coming years. The government is introducing a new structure for A level examinations on a phased basis between 2015 and 2017. The current system where AS modules count towards the final A Level grade will be removed. Under the new specifications, A Levels will be examined at the end of Year 13 only, although each subject will continue to offer an AS paper which can be taken at the end of Year 12. These AS papers can be combined with a full A Level but will not count towards that A Level.
The first subjects to change in September 2015 are:
- Business Studies
- Computer Science
- English Literature
All the other subjects that we offer are changing in 2016 except Government & Politics and Film Studies which are changing in 2017. The two systems will run concurrently until all A Levels are fully linear by 2017.
The reforms have also prompted suggestions that pupils should take the traditional three A Level option rather than the four subjects in Year 12 and three subjects in Year 13 as currently happens.
At Blundell’s, we will maintain the teaching of AS Levels in Year 12. This will allow minimum disruption to the running of the academic year and give both pupils and teachers an early opportunity to sample the new style examinations. All pupils will also be expected to pick four AS subjects as they enter Year 12, allowing them flexibility before having to make a final decision to reduce to three subjects into Year 13. As in previous years, students are also encouraged to take an Extended Project Qualification, allowing them to conduct in depth research into an area of their choice.
HMC schools are taking a variety of approaches to the changes and most are following our pattern. Universities have welcomed this approach, with Cambridge University commenting “we strongly encourage potential applicants to take AS Level examinations in at least three, and preferably four, subjects, whether reformed or not, at the end of Year 12”, writing that they consider AS exams taken at the end of Year 12 “extremely useful”. However, all universities are committed to selecting the best students who are right for their courses, regardless of the educational changes imposed by the government.
I am confident that we are making the best possible choice for our students at Blundell’s, and that this will allow them flexibility and the best opportunity to fulfil their potential. I would welcome the opportunity to discuss this with you further, so do please get in touch.
Recent news stories regarding the GCSE results of independent schools have, on the face of it, caused concern. Last week, highly achieving independent schools such as Westminster, St Paul's Girls', Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys and Uppingham all scored 0% in the government’s school league tables. Similarly, Blundell’s School results, according to government tables, show an ‘overall percentage fall’. This does not mean that pupils in our school have gained weaker results. Indeed, the number of pupils gaining 5 A*-C has remained stable and the number of pupils gaining A* has actually risen.
The change is because an increasing number of pupils in independent schools take the highly regarded International GCSE which is well thought of by both universities and employers. This year, the government decided that IGCSEs are no longer automatically included in the national measures of performance; thus any schools that offer them risk a fall in the league tables. Blundell’s is confident in our use of IGCSEs – the take up of which has coincided with excellent Oxbridge success for our pupils. We are fortunate to be in the independent sector where we are able to tailor our academic curriculum for the wellbeing of our students. As the Chair of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference Richard Harman wrote in The Telegraph last week, we will always continue to provide a range of the best and most suitable courses, regardless of the vagaries of political decision-making.