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Applications and predicted grades

(10 Posts)
Pipandmum Sun 21-Jun-20 12:40:07

I did not grow up un this country and school applications are new to me - my child is at a non selective private school.
We are starting to apply to schools for sixth form for 2021. We are applying to competitive London schools, three all girls and two mixed. All require a mix of 7s and 8s.
KGS has asked as part of the application process for her latest report, and I'm sure the others will be writing to her current school for her predicted grades. She is predicted to do a mix of mostly 7s, the odd 8, with three 6s. I am fine with all those predictions (though I expect her to do better) bar two of the 6s. One is for art, one English. She is in top sets and in discussions with these two teachers they have indicated they expect her to achieve 8s. But in the official reports they like to do a sort of 'if she was to take the exam today' stance and in art the teacher is notorious for never giving higher than a prediction of 6. I know my daughter is her star pupil and the written part of her report is full of praise (as is the English teachers). She gets As in both classes. So here is the dilemma: the schools surely look mainly at the predicted grades when deciding who to allow to continue with the applications. I am worried that these two 6s will knock her out from the start. In particular art, as that is one of her A level choices and we are hoping for a scholarship (which her art teacher believes is possible). I have asked her head of year who has spoken to both teachers, who confirmed they expect better exam results, but stand by their marks, particularly in light of the current circumstances (though they do a full schedule of live learning). Am I right to have concerns? Are schools likely to be a bit more flexible at the moment? Is it normal to give a predicted grade at least 1 or 2 marks below expectations? In discussions with another mother she has the same worry as her son is doing Art A level and needs an A, which the teacher acknowledges is likely, but will only predict a B. It is unlikely that I can get the teachers to change the predicted grade, I am just wondering how the admitting school views these.

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AveEldon Sun 21-Jun-20 19:24:48

What do her existing private school say about her subject choices?
Why aren't you looking to stay at her current school?

Pipandmum Sun 21-Jun-20 22:54:12

We are moving to london from the Isle of Wight. We moved here when my husband passed away for a fresh start, but I feel I am ready to move back- I really miss the city. My son will be 18 and is looking forward to moving there and my daughter had initially wanted to go to an all girls school, but is also now considering mixed.
She will most likely go to art college afterwards. She is very talented, and the galleries and museums in London would be a great resource, plus the connections the schools have with art colleges. She also loves history and writing. She was thinking of English as her third but does not want to spend her time analysing other writers. She thinks psychology will be interesting and more scientific as she enjoys that subject too. She works hard for her grades and I am keen that she continues to be challenged. It is just frustrating that a teacher will tell you face to face they anticipate an 8 but will only put a 6 in writing. But in these uncertain times, and without the usual end of year exams to support a higher predicted grade, they are sticking to it (whereas her history teacher has put an 8 as she is certain my daughter is capable of attaining that). It really is just those two, rather crucial departments, that tend to be cautious.

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catndogslife Mon 22-Jun-20 12:19:24

In my experience of applying for sixth form, many are prepared to be flexible on the subjects that your dd will take as often there is some swapping around once results are received.
It could be an issue that the grade 6 prediction is in a subject that she intends to take for A level. However for most sixth forms you select 3 subjects and a reserve subject depending on results.
I would say that as well as applying for the most selective schools you need to have one non-selective on as a back-up. Given the uncertainty about exams and predicted grades for next year, I think it would be wise to have a plan B in place that you are both happy with.
You can hold sixth form offers for several different schools by the way, it's not like Y7 where you can only accept one offer.
My dd held onto 3 offers: one aspirational i.e. if she exceeded predicted grades, one which was happy with all of her predicted grades and one in case she did less well than predicted.
Her grades were in line with predictions. However it's better to have plans in place now than not to have anything and then needing to rush round finding another sixth form at the last minute.

Clonakilty Sun 28-Jun-20 04:30:30

If you’re looking to start in 2021, then your child is still in Year 10. I’d still be cautious at this stage too.

Pipandmum Sun 28-Jun-20 13:26:47

Thank you @Clonakilty and @catndogslife. My reason for applying now is that her year head, who tends to write the recommendations, is leaving at the end of the term. She has been her head of year since Y7. Her replacement may not know my daughter at all. I realise the admitting schools may not even look at the applications now, but that is out of my control.
I am, and the teachers concerned, have verbally stated to me and the head of year that they are confident she will do much better than a 6. As offers are conditional, if the predictions were changed and she did not achieve the grade, the school can withdraw the offer. So I do not think it would be 'cheating' to have these grades increased.
There will not be another school report between now and end of the school year, and the first report in the Autumn term may not be issued before application deadlines, so I do not see anything changing between now and then.
I have been advised to write to the head of the departments and state specifically that I want the grades changed. One is one of the teachers involved. It is the case that even our 'safety' school will require a 7 in English and I haven't found any school in the area I am looking that would allow a student to take an A level subject without achieving a 7 minimum at GCSE.
All her other grade predictions are in line with what I expect - hopefully she will do better when the time comes but if she got what is predicted she'd accept that (mainly 7s, an 8 in History and a 6 in math). But her two best subjects, where she gets all As and is in the top set, it seems inconsistent that they predict a 6 (the same as her weakest subject - math - where she is in the third set)!
If she was to stay at her current school this wouldn't matter at all - but these two 6s may well send her applications straight to the reject pile.

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Lightsabre Sun 28-Jun-20 14:09:44

As you're aware, the top London schools are very competitive - there will be no shortage of straight A star pupils. With the independents, they may be slightly more flexible and interview as well which will give your dd a chance to shine. I would do all I can to get the report grades up if possible but there may be more careful scrutiny this year and next. There was a kerfuffle this year about over optimistic grade predictions for Sevenoaks pupils ( this was for A level though).

Ellmau Sun 28-Jun-20 18:55:31

She was thinking of English as her third but does not want to spend her time analysing other writers

Well, that's what English (Lit) A Level is. There is an English Language A Level, but not all schools will offer that.

Does she do any art out of school?

Hoghgyni Sun 28-Jun-20 20:10:32

I can guess which school your DD is currently at. Please don't take this the wrong way, but a competitive London 6th form will be very different from the relatively relaxed environment which your DD is currently in.

Look very carefully at which syllabus the school offers for history as the content differs significantly. DD chose her 6th form based on which modern periods were covered to avoid repeating GCSE topics.

My DD has just completed her A levels including English Language on the mainland. English Language A level analyses the development of language, covering topics such as children's language development and language and gender. Although my DD didn't take it alongside psychology, they do seem to fit nicely together.

Pipandmum Wed 01-Jul-20 22:04:17

Hi thanks for all your replies. We seem to have resolved the predicted grades issue: some teachers are wary because of current circumstances but I have had reassurance that they are 7s and 8s for the purpose of applications. The school is not interested in artificially inflating these predictions and I have no doubt myself she will get these grades - I have no desire to set her up for a fall.
We are not applying to very top tier schools (as far as I can tell), but schools that are nevertheless academically rigorous.
@Hoghgyni I take your point, her current school is non selective, but nevertheless a significant number achieve a combination of 8s and 9s at GCSE, and I believe she will be up to the work at a more selective school - it is after all one of the reasons for the move. And thank you for the tip about different history content - she was quite enamored about the option of Ancient History at one school, but we will scrutinise the syllabus's further.
She had discarded the idea of English Literature or language quite early on. Her real talent is art (@Ellmau she is teaching herself animation for Silver Art Award, and is hardly ever without a pen or pencil and sketchbook). Thank you all again.

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