A modest proposal for a replacement of the A*-C metric
Results day in August was a day of mixed emotions. Our school recorded an impressive leap in the amount of pupils who gained 5 A*-C grades including English and Maths, and many teachers were quite frankly surprised by this improvement. However, such surprise is not necessary when one considers the nefarious means by which schools manipulate their results and record such ‘improvements’.
At the root of this manipulation is the metric used for measuring school success. The ‘five good A*-C grades’ measurement values Cs as much as it values A*s, as schools are measured according to how many pupils gain a grade C or above in five or more subjects. I cannot think how the dim-witted bureaucrat who devised this metric did not realise what the inevitable response in schools would be.
For struggling schools, there is an all-consuming focus during year 11 on achieving C grades. Pupils who are on a C/D borderline are showered with attention, sent on residential study breaks, and given intensive small class teaching. There is an entire cottage industry in training days with titles such as ‘improving school performance: turning Ds into Cs’. Therefore, the educational ethos which has developed due to this short-sighted bureaucratic measurement is one that prizes mediocrity. The metric is actively slanted against recognising high performers gaining As and A*s.
An easy and inexpensive reform could completely do away with this corrupting measurement. Every GCSE grade could be assigned a point score, starting with ‘0 points’ for a U, and going up to ‘8 points’ for an A*. Bright cookies who got ten A*s would score 80 points, whereas midrange pupils with ten Cs would score 40 points. Schools could then be measured on the average points score achieved by all their pupils.
There you have it: an easy and effective way of removing the depressing C worship that takes over our schools every exam term.