Children across Barnsley have been receiving their GCSE results today.
As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic caused the cancellation of exams, students have been awarded centre-assessed grades which were submitted by their teachers based on several factors, including non-exam assessment and mock exam results.
Barnsley Council welcomed the decision by the government and Ofqual to amend the use of an algorithm which would have awarded students calculated grades based on their teacher’s assessment as well as the recent historical performances of schools and the academic record of each pupil.
Students will now be awarded whichever grade is higher from the centre-assessed or moderated methods.
Students taking BTEC exams face a delay in receiving their results as they are being re-graded to bring them in line with GCSE and A Levels. It is anticipated they will be released next week.
It is particularly pleasing to see continued progress in English and maths at grade 4 and above, which leaves us in line with or above the national average for both subjects.
We have also seen improvement across the board in traditional subjects, such as geography, history, science and languages.
The 9-1 grades were introduced in 2017 and now apply to all Barnsley results. The grading system offers greater stretch for candidates at the top end, with a 9 higher than the old A*.
It is not easy to make direct comparisons between the numerical grades and the old alphabetical system, except at three points: Grade 1 has been tied to the old grade G, grade 4 has been tied to the bottom end of the old grade C and grade 7 to the bottom of the old A.
Councillor Margaret Bruff, Cabinet Spokesperson for Children’s Services, said: "It has been a challenging time for our students with the coronavirus pandemic causing the cancellation of their exams.
"It’s perfectly understandable that they and their families will have been more worried than usual ahead of today with such uncertainty surrounding results.
"We welcomed the U-turn by the government to award centre assessment grades rather than using the algorithm, which would not have given a true reflection of the ability of our students.
"In Barnsley, the local authority and all our schools work very closely together throughout the year, not just when exam results are released.
"It's important to remember that it is teachers who know pupils best and the improvements seen today are in line with what our secondary principals have been predicting throughout the year.
"We're awaiting the release of the BTEC results next week for us to establish a full picture of just how well our young people have done but I would like to commend our pupils for their resilience and congratulate them on their successes. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, they can now progress onto the next stage of their life with confidence.
"Credit, too, must go to the staff, parents and carers for their support to the children.
"If your results were not what you were expecting, or you are unsure of your next steps, I would encourage you to call our dedicated helpline, which will be open until Wednesday 26th August.
"If students are meeting up with friends to celebrate, I would encourage them to follow relevant public health guidance relating to coronavirus, helping to stay safe by wearing a face covering and maintaining social distancing at all times."
The helpline has been arranged by I Know I Can, Barnsley Council’s young people service, with collaboration from schools. Experts from the Targeted Information, Advice and Guidance Service (TIAG) will be on hand at the other end of the phone to advise on educational and vocational options.
Any student wishing to contact the helpline should call 01226 775400. The phone lines will be open from 10am to 7pm from Thursday 20th August to Wednesday 26th August (weekend not included).
For students who want to appeal their results, guidance on the appeals process is available on the government website.
The Barnsley Children and Young People’s Plan 2019-22, which contains details of how Barnsley’s Children and Young People’s Trust aims to provide significant improvements in outcomes for children, young people and families throughout the borough is here.