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GCSE predicted grades used for sixth form admissions policy - is there any standardisation?

(71 Posts)
claptrapped Mon 28-Oct-19 15:30:28

A very oversubscribed selective sixth form near us uses GCSE predicted grades to rank applicants in order, and gives offers to the ones with the highest average grade - usually just those with various combinations of 8s and 9s. Once students have an offer, they don't have to achieve those predicted grades - they just need to achieve the minimum for the course (which is a 7 for most courses) - so they could easily end up scoring lower than students on the waiting list.

I'm wondering whether teachers use any standard method to predict grades? (If not, this sort of policy seems a bit unfair).

OP’s posts: |
cauliflowersqueeze Mon 28-Oct-19 15:32:51

I’m not sure the system you are describing is legal.

They have to give places according to a fixed criteria.

cauliflowersqueeze Mon 28-Oct-19 15:34:02

There is no good way to predict. The most accurate is based on their mock exams which are normally done in the January of year 11. But these are not exactly water right.

cauliflowersqueeze Mon 28-Oct-19 15:34:14

Watertight

RedskyToNight Mon 28-Oct-19 15:57:16

But some schools do mocks earlier (my DC's school do mocks in November). So you can't even compare results - a student taking mocks in January is likely to do better than one taking mocks in November.

DS's school won't predict 8s and 9s (or they didn't used to anyway, maybe this has changed now we've had more 9-1 exams). They just predict 7+. So no one from his school would get into the OP's selective school ...

cabbageking Mon 28-Oct-19 21:17:53

Predicted grades are just that. Not set in stone.

A level 5 may translate to an A level but a level 4 is unlikely to.
Some courses are harder and you would request a 6.
7 and above allows for leeway or under performance

You offer places based on the likelihood of passing, having enough students to run the course, and anything additional you may request.

Hopefully good schools would be moderating students work to ensure a level is bang on and not over or under estimated by staff.

So next parents evening perhaps parents need to ask how the know the predicted grade is accurate.

Don't forget you can withdraw offers if made on an assumption of levels.

Schools also know how the results have panned out nationally as a comparison.

titchy Mon 28-Oct-19 22:36:43

Does it really though, or is that unsubstantiated rumour? Ranking applicants in that way, rather than by achieved results would almost certainly be illegal.

claptrapped Mon 28-Oct-19 23:02:06

Titchy, that is what the admissions policy says.

OP’s posts: |
Comefromaway Mon 28-Oct-19 23:08:06

Dd’s School didn’t predict grades. We made an educated guess and filled it in ourselves. They did a reference though (was a private school but she didn’t take up the place)

Ds’s school don’t predict grades either.

Nat6999 Mon 28-Oct-19 23:45:52

Ds starts his second set of mocks after half term & then does core mocks again in february. Applications for sixth forms have to be in before the end of January, from what I have seen, most of our local sixth forms require 5 GCSE's at grade 4 or above, with grade 6 or above in subjects to be taken at A level. Places are only confirmed once GCSE results come out in August.

StanleySteamer Tue 29-Oct-19 00:14:26

Don't think there can be any question about the legality or illegality of an admissions procedure. The sixth froms have to base their admissions policy on something!
Generally it is wise to find out from the college exactly what they are looking for for any specific combination of A levels. Provided you apply early enough and live in the catchment area, and the predicted grades from the school, not the student(!) are high enough then they would be hard put to not offer your DC a place. But actually getting in will be conditional on them gaining the grades. Obvious really. And the more oversubscribed the college or sixth from, the pickier they can be about the grades.

cabbageking Tue 29-Oct-19 01:10:00

Sixth form can have an academic requirement.

claptrapped Tue 29-Oct-19 06:36:58

But actually getting in will be conditional on them gaining the grades

StanleySteamer, read my original post - no it isn't.

As others have said, the policy in this case may be illegal, i.e. it may contravene the national admissions code which says that admissions criteria need to be fair and objective.

OP’s posts: |
claptrapped Tue 29-Oct-19 06:41:13

Just to clarify - this is a school, not a college, so the National Schools Admissions Code does apply. They are allowed to select academically but they do need to be fair and objective.

OP’s posts: |
prh47bridge Tue 29-Oct-19 09:53:44

Sixth forms can have academic entry criteria but they must be the same for both internal and external applicants. The Schools Adjudicator has previously ruled that the use of predicted grades to rank sixth form applicants is acceptable so that remains the legal position unless someone takes a case to judicial review and wins.

Some sixth forms do act illegally. I know of one which openly states that admissions are based on the outcome of an interview with the head, which is clearly illegal. But using predicted grades is currently fine.

StanleySteamer Tue 29-Oct-19 11:29:05

But actually getting in will be conditional on them gaining the grades

StanleySteamer, read my original post - no it isn't.

As others have said, the policy in this case may be illegal, i.e. it may contravene the national admissions code which says that admissions criteria need to be fair and objective.

I did read the whole thread and all posts on it.

You stated that "Once students have an offer, they don't have to achieve those predicted grades - they just need to achieve the minimum for the course (which is a 7 for most courses) - so they could easily end up scoring lower than students on the waiting list." Does the published admissions policy actually state exactly that in their printed or online statement?

This makes no sense. Why make an offer on predicted grades then accept students with lower grades? Wouldn't do the school itself any good either. You could also appeal if your child has higher grades than another applicant for the same A levels and you could prove it. Sounds like a dump that is up its own arse and I'd avoid it and go somewhere where the admissions policy is clear and fair. This one apparently isn't.

StanleySteamer Tue 29-Oct-19 12:07:37

Right, teacher, I have now done my homework and understand why their admissions policy states what it states and why it would be illegal to do otherwise.
para 2.12 is the reason why, once an offer is made to a student they can still get in with just the minimum grade.
"Withdrawing an offer or a place
2.12 An admission authority must not withdraw an offer unless it has been offered in error, a parent has not responded within a reasonable period of time, or it is established that the offer was obtained through a fraudulent or intentionally misleading application. "
This would actually mean that, provided the offer was based on reasonable predicted grades, the school actually has no right to withdraw the offer.
(see assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/389388/School_Admissions_Code_2014_-_1
9_Dec.pdf )
(I put this in for other posters, not you @claptrapped as you have obviously read it.)
Reading this "(As stated in paragraph 1.9 m) above, any meetings held to discuss options and courses must not form part of the decision process on whether to offer a place." It is hard to say that this sort of discussion is an "interview". These are allowed.
So, despite me being a bit in error without checking up, I still say that the best thing you can do if you are dead set on getting your DC into this place is to ensure he/she gets the hightest possible predicted grades, which as we all seem to agree is likely to come from mock grades and then fulfils the right other criteria e.g. living in the catchment area. Hope this clarifies it a bit.

claptrapped Tue 29-Oct-19 12:16:52

Sounds like a dump that is up its own arse and I'd avoid it and go somewhere where the admissions policy is clear and fair

It's one of the most selective state schools in the country, and yes, it is up its own arse. It's helpful to know that others agree its policy is potentially illegal - likely to be cock up rather than conspiracy, but that's no excuse.

OP’s posts: |
StanleySteamer Tue 29-Oct-19 12:19:00

Did our last two posts cross? Or do you not agree about para 2.12?

claptrapped Tue 29-Oct-19 12:19:32

The Schools Adjudicator has previously ruled that the use of predicted grades to rank sixth form applicants is acceptable so that remains the legal position unless someone takes a case to judicial review and wins.

Can you point me to that judgement @prh47bridge - I'd like to read it.

OP’s posts: |
StanleySteamer Tue 29-Oct-19 12:34:42

According to the admissions code, only using an interview would be illegal, which is very different from the situation in an independent school.

I think if you read the whole Admissions Code, boring, I know, I think you will find the answers to your questions.

This is parallel to the situation in university admissions where sometimes a student gets onto a course with lower grades than predicted. The apparent unfairness of this is what has stimulated discussions about only allowing uni applications to be made after A level grades are known, as in countries abroad.
But if this were to happen it would mean an almighty scramble to apply and be given a place after GCSE results are known which would be about 2 weeks before term starts, which unfortunately is not really seen as possible now. Or GCSEs would have to be taken in the spring term, which a lot of people would complain about and then what would the students do during the summer term?

I get the feeling that you are angry about this and kicking against the pricks rather. Do you honestly want DC to go to this school? If so, you know now what he/she has to do.

I think you need to make up your mind(s) about what you want and/or try looking at other schools in the area if you honestly think he/she may not get an offer.

Looking up judgments won't change anything and, as my research has shown, it looks as if they actually are not doing anything illegal. If you read to the end of the Code, you'll see that if they were, you and probably lots of others in your position would probably have appealed to the adjudicator about it. If it is that good a school it is more or less certain that they know the law and are complying with it, especially if they are such a high profile school. Sorry and all that, I can tell you are upset.

cantkeepawayforever Tue 29-Oct-19 13:36:20

This is the case for a selective school I know of - may be the same one.

The 'actual' requirement for getting into 6th form is not ludicrously high - about 8 7s.

However the offer of 8 7s is only given to some of those who apply from outside(and to all of the internal candidates, not all of whom meet the requirement). The decision about who gets an offer is based on predicted grades.

This is difficult, because local schools have different prediction approaches - target grades, minimum predicted grades, genuine predictions - which are not comparable. I do not know whether the school is allowed to take this into account when making offers, or whether it is only legal if they treat all predicted grades the same?

cantkeepawayforever Tue 29-Oct-19 13:38:57

(Anecdotally, the 'predicted grade cut off' for an offer of 8 7s to be made is a mixture of 9s and 8s. Certainly someone predicted 8 7s would not get an offer)

claptrapped Tue 29-Oct-19 13:54:03

Thanks cantkeepawaytogether - yes, it may be the same one. The policy actually says the ranking is based on "our assessment of" the predicted grades, which creates even more subjectivity.

OP’s posts: |
prh47bridge Tue 29-Oct-19 14:32:16

There have been no direct challenges on the subject but I have seen a number of cases where the Adjudicator has looked at sixth-form admission criteria involving the use of predicted grades and specifically allowed the school to continue using predicted grades as part of their decision-making process whilst stopping them from using other factors such as attendance and disciplinary record. However, saying it is based on "our assessment" of the predicted grades may just take it over the line into being a breach of the Code.

You need to refer this to the Schools Adjudicator if you want to take it further.

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