GCSE Results Day Sheffield: Hundreds of resits likely for Steel City's teenagers - but cut the kids some slack
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The teenagers picking up their GCSE results today were in year eight when the pandemic hit.
They were deprived of over a year of precious social experiences in school during the formative years of their lives. If they wanted to learn, they had to apply themselves through online classes and Zoom calls.
Then, ahead of their first, true, rigorous exam season in April this year, the Government made it clear it would be taking measures to 'curb grade inflation' as a result of teacher assessments. Results would be in line with how they were in 2019, and pupils would just have to tough it out.
Somehow, results nationally on GCSE results day this year (August 23) have come out slightly better than 2019. 68.2 per cent of all results were a 'pass' of at least a Grade 4 or higher, compared to 67.3 per cent in 2019. Additionally, one in five results (22 per cent) were a top grade of 7 or higher.
The all-important grade, however, is getting a '4' in both English and maths. Anything less prompts a retake, a policy supported by Education Secretary Gillian Keegan, who says people "do a lot better" in their lifetime if they pass. This year in England, three out of 10 students (30 per cent) will be resitting their exams - almost exactly in line with results in 2019.
Now, I wish I could tell you more about how Sheffield's students have performed - but precious little has been released. Out of the nine statements received by The Star on Thursday, seven did not publish statistics, only writing how "many students" passed, how there were "some great results", and that "their hard work was rewarded".
Take Stocksbridge High School, for example, who rightly pointed out the pressures children have faced in recent years - but did not post statistics.
"Young people... have faced the twin challenges of Covid disruption and the government decision to reduce grading to 2019 levels," wrote headteacher Andy Ireland. "However, despite these, there was some great success stories with many students achieving top grades in many subjects."
One school that did post its results, however, was King Edward VII, which has had a most stressful year. Between January and July, the school had to fight off an academisation order by the DfE and contested an 'Inadequate' rating dealt out to them by Ofsted, before they were later upgraded to 'Good' in all areas again. Through all this and more, three out of four pupils attained the all-important Grade 4 or above in English and Maths (beating the national average) and one in four students achieved at least one Grade 7 or higher.
There was also High Storrs School, who shared how 42 per cent of all results were a Grade 7 or higher, with a staggering total of 240 Grade 9s by all pupils. Headteacher Claire Tasker said: "We are a big school; we are a very full and busy school and staff have worked so hard to ensure all the disruption and challenges of the past few years have not derailed us. This group of Year 11 students have been an absolute joy. I am bursting with happiness to see them all celebrating today."
However, the emerging picture is that, as will be the case across much of England, hundreds of resits are likely in Sheffield, and hundreds of teenagers on Thursday were left disappointed and rethinking their futures after opening their envelopes.
Well... Never mind that for now. Even if they were light on statistics, every school that contacted The Star still had some fantastic achievements, of course.
Ava Hardwick made history by being the first student at Stocksbridge High to achieve straight Grade 9s in all her subjects.
Sheffield Springs Academy had Lacey-May Douglas (six Grade 9s), Horthugues Mbuyi (five Grades 9s) and Lewis Ray (three Grade 9s, and also achieved top grades in his vocational qualifications).
And Firth Park Academy, who commendably held an extra lesson every day so pupils could make the most of their education, released a roster of six high flyers (Scarlett Blades-Keel, Jibin Chelliam Puram Salin, Sohaib Elamani, Samar Maisari, Kiara Alla, and Jade Webb) who all achieved seven or more Grade 7s.
The true outcomes for Sheffield's Class of 2023 will seemingly not emerge until mid-September.
All that's left to say until then is - congratulations to all of Sheffield's pupils. You've been through a lot.