Hitting the ground running in September 2021 – Setting priorities for Y13 as a Post-16 Leader in Wales

3rd September 2021

As the Autumn Term begins for schools and colleges in Wales, here are some reflections from the Education Team at Alps on setting Post-16 priorities for Y13 in these challenging circumstances.

This cohort took no GCSE examinations in 2020. Their Y12 in 2020-21 was significantly disrupted in the pandemic, however well you managed online/remote learning. They were awarded AS Centre Determined Grades (CDGs) which will not count towards their A-Level results. Yet, they are very likely to be assessed by examinations in 2022.

AS results have been significantly higher in 2020 and 2021 than when awarded by examination. For example, the 2021 A-B 60.8% is higher than the 2019 A-C 60.2%. Will replicating the 2021 AS grades at A-Level in 2022 prove to be challenging?

So, the top priority must involve putting these students’ needs and interests first, aiming for each to reach their potential and, perhaps crucially, to achieve positive post-18 pathways. As Jeremy Miles put it in June 2021, ‘Our number one priority remains supporting learners as we recover from the pandemic.’

The academic year often begins with an in-depth evaluation of results in Raising Standards meetings with subject leads. Perhaps these meetings in September 2021 need a focus on current Y13, where they appear to be based on Y12 AS CDGs, and how best to move forwards effectively.

What do we know so far about assessment in 2022?

  • Jeremy Miles has pledged that next year’s A level and GCSE students will not be disadvantaged because of Covid disruption to their studies: ‘The means of assessment may be different next year, but grades will be of the same value.’
  • In March 2021, Qualification Wales advised schools and colleges that assessment requirements will be adapted for learners studying for GCSE, AS and A levels and the Skills Challenge Certificate Qualifications in 2022.
  • The WJEC has already published reduced content for students to learn taking into account their lost and varying amounts of learning during the pandemic.

What do we know about self-evaluation, accountability and Estyn inspections?

  • The suspension of Key Stage 4 & legacy sixth form performance measures will be extended to the 2021/22 academic year.
  • Qualification awards data must not be used to hold schools to account for their learners’ outcomes.
  • School Categorisation will not take place in the academic year 2021/22.
  • The suspension of Estyn’s core inspection programme for schools and PRUs will be extended to include the autumn term 2021.
  • All schools and post-16 providers continue to be required to undertake effective self-evaluation to support continuous improvement.

However, not everything is so certain:

  • What further disruption to learning may occur in 2021-22?
  • How will Qualification Wales / the WJEC determine grading standards in 2022, after two years of turbulence, without disadvantaging Y13?
  • What data will 2022 results be compared to when fixing grade boundaries?

So, for now, we recommend that you prioritise those things you can control, such as the quality of teaching and learning, the quality of guidance and support, and the quality of your leadership at all levels.

  • Aim to create as secure as possible a Y13 baseline based on Y12 2021 AS Grades: a Monitoring Point Zero (MPZ).
  • Create a realistic assessment timetable with subject leads to enable students to practice and master the skills required in examinations (and to build evidence portfolios in case these are needed).
  • Use Alps Connect effectively throughout the year to help identify subjects, sets, student groups and students for support (& praise).
  • We recommend a sharp focus on the subjects that are taken by larger cohorts of students as these subjects will have the most significant impact on this cohort’s outcomes and destinations.
  • Do all you can to be relentlessly positive both with your students and their teachers.

This blog is a companion piece to our Alps webinar ‘Post-16 leadership priorities – Wales KS5 – September 2021’. Additionally, this webinar will discuss target-setting with your new Y12 and demonstrate how to use Alps Connect most effectively when tracking progress.

Click here to register for the KS5 Wales Webinar.

In the meantime, if you require further technical or educational support, contact us at [email protected] or [email protected]

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