13 Nov

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GrahamIt’s been a busy old week.

I think the highlight, for me, has been the parents’ evening at Hollinwood Academy. It was brilliant to have the opportunity to chat with you all and we were all delighted with the many positive comments from our families. It was wonderful to hear of the friendships that are starting to be formed and the relationships the children are building with the staff.

I am looking forward to parents’ evening at New Bridge School next Tuesday 17th November.

In my blog last week I outlined some of the changes relating to the assessment systems and how we are responding across the group. This week I will give you an insight into some of the changes that the Government is introducing to exams and external accreditation.

It is likely to be a really confusing year or so as a result of some of the changes that we anticipate.

The key driver is something called ‘Progress 8’, a collection of subjects placed in different ‘buckets’. ‘Bucket 1’ contains Maths and English. ‘Bucket 2’ has 3 subjects chosen by the young person from the Sciences, Computer Studies, Geography/History and Modern Foreign Languages. In ‘bucket 3’ the young person is asked to choose another 3 subject areas from the Arts, RE, PE, Performance Arts and Music etc. The young person will be assessed using something called the ‘Attainment 8’ score.

The 8 grades from the 3 ‘Progress 8’ buckets are added together and divided by 10 to produce an ‘Attainment 8’ score. The Maths grade in ‘bucket 1’ is given double weighting, as is the English if the young person has taken both English Literature and English Language. No matter how full or empty the 3 buckets are, a young person’s score is always divided by 10 to produce an average score (10 representing the 8 subject slots, with English and Maths double weighted.)

There are also changes to the grading system for GCSEs. A young person will no longer get an A-G grade at GCSE but will instead get a grade of 9-1. Grade 1 will be the equivalent of grade G at GCSE, grade 5 will be the benchmark for a ‘good pass’ and grade 9 will be a new grade for very high performing young people.

As you can see, it is all incredibly complicated and has real implications for the curriculum that we offer.

As most of these reforms have been introduced with little or no consideration for children and young people with additional needs, a number of schools including our own are working with officials to see where our children fit in. We want our young people to aspire to ‘Progress 8’ but we need to ensure that those who may not meet these standards are able to study courses that will have real currency in the adult world. I will keep you up to date.

I am arranging a meeting for families directly affected by our move to Medtia Square and invitations will be sent out shortly. I hope everyone involved will be able to come along and discuss our exciting plans.

Next week I am in London for a meeting with Edward Timpson, the Children and Families Minister, to discuss how we are preparing our young people for life after school. He is particularly interested in how our Bridging the Gap, Future Finders and New Bridge Horizons provisions are supporting employment, independent living and community access. I will report on our discussions in next week’s blog.

Have a great weekend,

Graham