Top Merton students praised amid GCSE downgrading row
The borough’s brightest students have been lauded at a ceremony for top GCSE and A-Level results, despite controversial changes to way some exams were marked this year.
Held at The Chaucer Centre, Morden, on Monday September 10, Merton’s mayor, Councillor David Williams, praised students’ outstanding results and individual successes.
He said: “It is so encouraging to see all these young people who have done so well at school. Education makes a real and significant difference to people’s lives, and trying your best at school, will stand you in good stead for a positive future.”
Perseid, Cricket Green, Melrose, The SMART Centre, Raynes Park, Ricards Lodge, Rutlish, St Mark’s, Ursuline High and Wimbledon College were among those included at the event.
This year saw a slight fall in the number of top grades achieved at A-Levels, but most of Merton’s schools and colleges saw their best ever results.
Catholic boys school Wimbledon College, in Edge Hill, celebrated its best A-level results – 50 per cent getting either a A* or A grade - just four years after funding cuts threatened the very existence of its sixth form.
And St Mark’s Academy, in Mitcham, celebrated big improvements in its GCSE results for the second year in a row after 56 per cent of students got five good GCSE passes (including English and Maths), compared to just 23 per cent in 2010.
Across the borough, the number of GCSE students who achieved that standard was just under 60 per cent, only slightly down compared to last year.
Chris Mallaband, the principal of St Mark’s Academy and chairman of Merton’s secondary heads group, said this figure may have been affected by changes to the way GCSE English papers were marked for pupils who sat the exams in June.
He said: “It hit us [St Mark’s] but luckily was masked by the amazing improvement.
"Many schools will be complaining to the exam boards and there is likely to be action at a local authority and professional association level too.
"It has hit some pupils very hard."
Leaked letters published yesterday showed that Ofqual, the Government’s exams regulator pressurised one examining board to alter its GCSE English grade boundaries just two weeks before results were published last month, to avoid grade inflation.
Ofqual wrote to Edexcel on August 7 amid concerns that there would be a rise in C grades, calling on them to act quickly to produce results that were closer to predictions for the subject.
The House of Commons’ education select committee will take evidence from Education Secretary Michael Gove today.
On this year’s top achievers, cabinet member for education Councillor Martin Whelton added: “It is wonderful to see so many of Merton’s young people achieving at school.
"These awards recognise how hard our young people of all abilities have worked to do the best they possibly can.
“We are committed to providing quality education for all our young people, and believe it is important to reward and celebrate endeavour and achievement.
“The education of all our young people is one of our top priorities and part of that commitment involves recognising and rewarding those who do well.”