This year, for the first time in almost 10 years as a headteacher, I felt success on sixth form results day. For the first time ever, every student had passed and exceeded his or her target grade. Every student who wanted to go to university had achieved the grades to get into his or her first-choice institution. Every other student had a positive onward route into further education, an apprenticeship or an appropriate job. Two young men started work in the City and are probably already earning more than me.
For many years, students at my school had underachieved in their A levels, failed to get into university and failed to secure positive onward routes after Year 13. Each year, half of them dropped out after Year 12, never to be seen again. Yet this year, only one pupil didn’t transfer from Year 12 to Year 13 – and that was because she had gained the confidence to start an apprenticeship. In short, until this year my school had failed too many pupils during their sixth-form years.
What was different this year? We stopped teaching A levels.