Peculiar but Pleasant: A-Level Results Day at Clyst Vale


“Peculiar but pleasant” covers many things about Clyst Vale, of course, but here it refers to today’s A-level Results Day………..

Given all the media hype and speculation, I think a lot of people were apprehensive about today. I am glad that we encouraged students to collect their results, and bring along a parent if they wished, because this contributed much to the atmosphere, and to be honest, it’s the way we do things at Clyst Vale. (Talking to people face-to-face saves hundreds of e-mails and phone calls next week, too). The sun shone; the atmosphere was really pleasant with the feel of a reunion; there were plenty of students, parents and staff mixing outside, suitably socially distanced; and it was a great opportunity for students and staff to say the goodbyes which weren’t possible when lockdown started. You can get something of the feel of the event from the photos; a bit odd, but actually quite pleasant.

The best news of all is that all of our university candidates have secured a place at the university or college of their choice, and that the majority of the year group are able to move forward without these A-level grades being a barrier; one or two students are reconsidering their course choices. Our students have been absolutely amazing, and even today they demonstrated phenomenal maturity and understanding. This is helped enormously by the superb relationships we build, and excellent communication and support throughout the year and right through lockdown. As one parent commented, “you always treat students like real people; at no point do they feel like another number or statistic”. Huge credit goes to the Sixth Form Team led by Miss Haynes and A-level teachers for achieving this.

As I say year in, year out, the most important thing is whether Year 13 can progress to the next stage of their lives. This Year 13 has had a lot to contend with: their revision build-up was halted overnight, their exams did not happen, their end-of year events were cancelled and it wasn’t even possible for a proper goodbye; then followed a long period in limbo ending with this week’s frantic scrabbling around by the government.

If these had been results from actual exams, they would have been our best for at least three years. However, similar to nationally, 39% of all centre-assessed grades were downgraded. 75% of students had at least one of their grades downgraded. There was more of an impact on higher-ability students and on subjects with bigger cohorts in the College and nationally. So, even though our students have the grades to move on, quite a few were feeling some disappointment and unfairness. We will do our utmost to use the appeals systems (once the government has decided how it works, and assuming it doesn’t change by breakfast tomorrow !) to ensure that we can get as many fair results for our students as we possibly can.

[I’ve decided against putting out a lot of celebratory text about excellent exam results, photos of individual students and their achievements, or the traditional “jumping for joy” shots. I hope people understand, but it didn’t feel appropriate this year. These were not normal results; it didn’t happen here, but around the country there are thousands of students who have been harshly treated by this system, and through no fault of their own find their plans and hopes in tatters. Also, not everyone here was delighted by their grades, there have been a few unfathomable results in Year 12 BTecs which seem plain wrong, and there will be a number of appeals.]

So, our incredible students will soon grace the lecture rooms, labs and corridors of a wide variety of universities who are really fortunate to have them. Many will go to universities in the South-West or South Wales, with others venturing to London, Huddersfield, Southampton and Edinburgh. About three-quarters will be taking degrees related to Science or Maths, which sustains a long Clyst Vale tradition.

My colleagues and I are really proud of our students, and would have been whatever happened today; they are not defined by a letter or number, but by their character and personality, skills and qualities. We wish them every success in the future.


Kevin Bawn