Students across Knowsley have today found out which grades they have been awarded in their GCSEs.
With exams cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic, this year results day felt very different.
Knowsley students found out their marks in a variety of ways – for some in person at school, for others by email or online. In all cases, schools and teachers have been available to offer help, support and advice to any young person who needs it.
And, instead of the controversial ‘algorithm’ which was originally proposed to calculate results, grades are instead being awarded on the basis of centre-assessments, made by schools and teachers, and based on the student’s work and achievements over the length of their studies.
Cllr Margaret Harvey, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “This is a GCSE results day like no other. My heart goes out to the class of 2020, who have been so severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the lack of formal education over those critical last months of the school year.
“It’s a huge relief to know that they walk away today with a mark which has been carefully assessed by those who know and understand them best. This is a far fairer way of judging their skills and aptitude than a faceless algorithm, and arguably better even than a one-off three hour exam. We know our young people and teachers have been working incredibly hard towards this day for years, and the fact that these results show an improvement in performance at many of our schools is testament to that hard work.
She continued: “I’m delighted that students have today received the marks they have worked so hard towards and thoroughly deserve. They now have what they need to move on to the next step in their lives, without this pandemic having been allowed to permanently disadvantage them. Without the change in the marking system which was finally confirmed only a few days ago, we could not have been confident of that.”
However, there are still students in Knowsley and elsewhere who face a delay in finding out the results of their Btec courses after schools were told not to issue results late last night when it was decided that these grades, too, will be subject to re-assessment.
Cllr Harvey said: “This is going to mean a large number of students with incomplete results today. It’s also added enormously to schools’ workload and is another last minute change which is causing unnecessary stress and worry for all concerned. It’s absolutely essential that this is sorted out as quickly as possible.”
Students are celebrating across Knowsley today
Among those celebrating at Kirkby High School today was Owen Newsome, who acheived 3 x 8s; 4 x 7s and 2 x 6s. He now plans to go to Liverpool Media Academy and has ambitions to one day perform on Broadway. Of the last few months, he said: “I’ve missed school, I loved school. It’s been an uncertain time for us all, but it’s all worked out and I’m looking forward to studying at LMA in September.”
His fellow students Hannah Lowthian, Poppy McLoughlin, Joseph Johnson were also delighted to receive top marks – and were able to enrol on their chosen college courses. Joseph praised the school and said: “The teachers really worked hard to keep up us busy with work during the lockdown, we worked right up until the date that would have been our final exam. That really helped us stay focused and keep occupied.” Other high achieving Kirkby High pupils included Abbie Hayes, who scored 4 x 9s, 1 x 8 and 4 x 7s as well as Charlotte Mainwairing, who got 4 x 8s, 4 x 7s and 1 x 6.
Headteacher Rochelle Conefry said GCSE results day had been an emotional one in school. “It has been so lovely in school today to have students in and feel almost a sense of normality. The students were all sent their results by email, actually, but many of them felt they wanted to be together when they opened them, so they waited until they got here and opened them together. It was lovely.” Student Poppy said: “When we left on the last day before the lockdown in March, we kind of knew it was going to be our last day of school. But coming here all together today has felt much more like a proper ending.”
Throughout the morning, Council Leader Graham Morgan used video conferencing to congratulate students and teachers at each of the schools, and to ask how the lockdown had affected them.
At The Prescot School and across the borough, there was no shortage of pupils full of ambition and excitement to go on to their next steps – with many heading off to top colleges like Head Boy Gary, who will be studying psychology, criminology and more at A Level.
At Lord Derby Academy, there was also no shortage of pupils planning their next steps on to college, apprenticeships or other challenges.
Head teacher, Vicky Gowan, said: “The 2020 cohort has been through a year like no other but our pupils have truly risen to the challenge. It is a real joy to see them again on site today and to join in the celebration of their success.
“Pupils should feel so proud of what they have achieved and give themselves the credit they deserve.Today their dedication has been recognised and rewarded. I am so pleased for our pupils and their families. Their resilience is admirable.”
She added: “The final grades the pupils have received have been scrutinised through a very thorough Dean Trust quality assurance process and we are confident that pupils are moving on to the next stage of their education or training with a fair set of qualifications.”
At St Edmund Arrowsmith Catholic High School in Whiston, head teacher Helen Pinnington was extremely proud of her Year 11 students. “We’ve missed having all the students in school so much,” she said. “It’s been lovely having Year 11 back today, the only issue is not being able to give them all a big hug to celebrate what they’ve achieved!”
Looking back on the last few months, she said: “It’s been a real journey. At the start of this, we didn’t have an online learning portal – but we managed to get that up and running quickly and successfully, so much so we were then helping other schools as they did the same. I’m really proud of that.
“I think the last few months have been a real challenge, but it’s also made people really pull together, be creative and think differently. I’m particularly pleased with the amount of support we’ve been able to give Year 10 – who will be next year’s GCSE students – making sure they had online lessons and sticking closely to their usual timetables so that they haven’t missed out.”
St Edmund Arrowsmith student Reece, who is now going on to study the arts, said: “At first, when there was the lockdown and we were wondering what was going to happen with our GCSEs and exams, I was really nervous. But then I realised that it wasn’t just me – it was millions of other students all in the same boat, so that made me feel better.” Another of the high achievers at the school was Chloe Forrester, who achieved 7 x grade 9’s, 1x grade 8 and 1x grade 7.
At All Saints High in Kirkby, Head Teacher Tony McGuinness has spent today congratulating relieved students as they now head off to their next chapter.
He said: “There have been so many success stories here today. And that is testament to the last five years of hard work by these pupils and their teachers – in fact, it even goes back as far as the foundations that were laid at primary school. I’m delighted to look around school today and see such a range of young people who are now able to go on to fulfil their various ambitions – from students with lots of 9 grades who are now going off to study chemistry or politics at college, to students who are looking forward to starting apprenticeships with local companies or even go off on a scholarship to play football. All of those are fanastic success stories and I wish every single one of them the very best in the future.”