Call for results review at London school amid downgrading claim

Teachers and parents at a Londra secondary school have called for hundreds of GCSE and A-level results to be reassessed independently amid claims senior staff instructed teachers to downgrade their initial marks.

Teachers at Ravensbourne school in Bromley have said they were asked to deliberately mark down students this year because their results were significantly better than in previous years.

They told the Guardian senior staff feared the marked improvement could trigger allegations of artificial grade inflation, something the school’s multi-academy trust was concerned about.

One internal email, sent to some staff by the deputy head, Louise Cooper, said the three-year trend in grades at the school should be used to support the final marking decisions. She added she would look at anomalies which did not match the previous three-year trend.

Another document shows a teacher protesting about grade reductions for specific students, with the teacher stating they were not willing to sign off grades they believed to have been manipulated to fit with the grades from previous years.

Quest'anno, education secretary Gavin Williamson scrapped GCSE and A-level exams due to the coronavirus pandemic and replaced them with teacher awarded grades overseen by exam boards. Students in England achieved record numbers of top grades this year, con un 2.5% percentage point rise in top grades in GCSEs and a 6% jump in points in A-levels.

tuttavia, Lindsay Dale, the school’s former head of chemistry who retired at the end of the spring term, said the school had short-changed a bright cohort to avoid the grade inflation going on elsewhere. “The results that came out are not consistent with the grades I saw. Some grades were changed but some of the teachers refused to sign them off.”

A second teacher said: “On average students’ grades are about one and a half grades lower than the grades they actually achieved this year. The initial grades had two sets of markdowns before reaching the grade that was sent to the exam boards. The school serves a diverse community and there’s a fear that the more disadvantaged students won’t challenge their grades. All of the grades need to be independently looked at again.”

Another internal document shows a teacher saying they refuse to sign off grades adjusted by the senior leadership team due to “the mismatch between grades submitted and awarded.”

The Ravensbourne school, whose GCSE and A-level grades are significantly below the national average, is part of a multi-academy trust run by E21C Trust (Education for the Twenty First Century). The school has been beset with problems in recent years. It has gone through three head teachers in three years. while around 30 teachers left at the end of the spring and summer terms.

The last full Ofsted report in 2014 rated the school as good. A short one-day inspection in 2018 confirmed the 2014 ‘good’ rating.

The Guardian has spoken to more than 20 teachers, students and parents, most of whom spoke on condition of anonymity.

Students who spoke to the Guardian said their scores had been marked down by a whole grade or more, with some having been marked down by as many as four grades compared with their predicted scores.

One devastated student who had been hoping to study medicine, ha detto al Guardian: “I felt really confident about my grades. I was revising non stop and did 11 GCSEs. School is my passion. I worked so hard. I needed sevens (Come) but got fours, fives and sixes (Bs, Cs and Ds). I’m just so shocked I can’t even explain how I feel. I felt like I was in a trance when I got my results. This is just not fair. They have ruined everyone’s lives.”

Students can appeal against their GCSE and A-level grades for free this year.

A spokesperson for Ravensbourne school said: “JCQ guidelines on awarding teacher assessed grades have been followed and a robust process has ensured grades have been awarded in line with grade descriptors. We can confirm that the awarding bodies have sampled the grades in a range of subjects and verification was received that grades have been awarded accurately. There is a process in place should any student wish to appeal their grade and the school will continue to provide support and guidance to any student who needs it.”

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