Response to Recent Press Enquiries About A-Level Entries

Please see the Academy’s response below:

“Reports around withdrawals at the Academy have in some cases been incorrect or incomplete. We are therefore setting out the school’s response, policies and processes below.

A-level completion rates for sixth forms and colleges are published annually. The Academy’s completion rate for A-level studies is consistently in line with or above national and local averages. We are set to be the same this academic year.

In reviewing our exam entry for 2019 summer exams, we can confirm that 97% of A-level exams will be sat as planned.

Separately any decision to withdraw a student from an exam is a difficult one for us to take and is one we make working with a student and their family. Only in individual circumstances would a decision be taken to withdraw a student from an examination, or recommend a switch to an AS exam. We make decisions based on the individual needs of students.

If a student’s assessments demonstrate over time that they are not passing the course, or if a student raises personal circumstances that mean a deferral is more appropriate then withdrawal might be considered. Not to do so could potentially restrict future university applications.  This is only done when this possibility has been flagged and discussed with the family in advance.

With any affected student, we have robust plans in place to support the best outcomes for them, even it means taking a longer time to reach their goals. Support in place is bespoke to the student to help determine their next steps and progression to university or elsewhere. In some cases this takes the form of an additional year in the sixth form to overcome whatever barriers there are. Our very experienced careers advisor and our student well-being service is core to this support. We do not believe that any school would take a decision like this lightly and for us it is only something that would take place after much thought and extended opportunities for a student to demonstrate their best work.”

In summary, any affected student has been part of the following process:

  • Regular monitoring of progress and any student at risk of not passing was identified early in the school year. This led to meetings with parents and teachers to flag the concern and agree a plan of support and action;
  • Targets were agreed and action necessary to fulfil them were put in place along with a wider discussion of any wider support needed;
  • If this did not lead to improved progress in assessments we then discussed with the student and their parent the possibility of not entering them for an A Level in that subject. We only did this if we had seen no evidence the student could achieve a pass grade;
  • If a student felt they were still in a position to achieve a pass we continued to support them to a final assessment in April. In special circumstances we agreed to extend this into the Easter holiday to give students the best chance possible. Parents were again kept informed of this;
  • Further meetings to support students were held with parents and carers at the start of the summer term, and we continue to offer support and guidance to individual students.
  • Emails are sent only to confirm in writing what has already been discussed in the meetings with students.

We feel strongly that discussing individual students is not appropriate or supportive to individuals or the whole student body who are working very hard and we are doing all we can to support them. We continue to encourage all students to come and talk to the staff here at the Academy so that we can offer the very best advice and guidance.

The UCL Academy, 20th May 2019

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