If your AS-level is not up to scratch, you’re out

Sixth-formers who don’t get top AS-level grades are being thrown out of private and state schools to boost their league table rankings. This is from the Telegraph

…The most selective private and state schools are increasingly using public exams to weed out their worst-performing pupils, forbidding them from returning in September, in order to improve their league table performance. They not only bar pupils with poor GCSE grades from the sixth form but also refuse to allow sixth formers to return if they fall short in their AS-levels, sat at the end of lower sixth.

Janette Wallis, senior editor of the Good Schools Guide, has been bombarded with calls from worried parents in the past fortnight. “It is a very fraught time for parents if they know their child hasn’t got the results a school is asking for to continue to the next stage,” she says. “Children have all the pressure preparing for exams and now they are anxious over the summer holidays to see if the school will take them back. It can be very shocking and upsetting.”

A handful of underperforming pupils can significantly reduce a school’s ranking in league tables, which are calculated based on overall exam grades. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s a state school or an independent, whether they’re top of the rankings or lower down,” explains Wallis. “Schools are protective of their league table position.”

Nor does it only affect children who perform very badly in their exams. “It’s not always children getting Ds and Es,” says Wallis. “We get complaints from parents about independent schools that require five GCSEs at A* grade to continue to the sixth form.”

This inevitably increases pressure on pupils, who must focus relentlessly on their grades for four years. “Their requirements are so high that just putting a foot wrong means you aren’t able to continue,” she says. “It can be extremely distressing for children when their results are very good indeed, but just not superb.”

More at:  If your AS-level is not up to scratch, you’re out

We carried a story recently about this happening at a number of academies but it appears to be much wider reaching than that. What are your thoughts? Is it a justifiable approach – perhaps even a way of motivating students to work harder – or is it unacceptable to deny them a place to study? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments or on twitter… 

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Categories: Secondary.


  1. chemtabulous

    SchoolsImprove it’s a numbers game. To stay near top of league tables many schools must weed out putative under-performers.

  2. Mktadvice4schls

    SchoolsImprove it shows the pernicious influence of league tables – parents need to be aware of gaming & choose best schl for their child

  3. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Ah, the league table chestnut once again rears it’s ugly head. Them and Ofsted are stains on the underpants of education

  4. Janet2

    The participation age is rising to 18.  Schools have no business denying pupils an education because their results might cause a drop in league table position.

  5. BramRaider

    SchoolsImprove Schools should have ensured pupils were on the right courses. There should also be more high quality routes available.

  6. educimprov

    SchoolsImprove exact but when kicked them it isn’t only their academic life that suffers. so does their confidence. esp if they are SEN

  7. BramRaider

    SchoolsImprove No pity for private school pupils or their parents. If you are willing to pay then you’ll find someone willing to take money

  8. StephenDrew72

    SchoolsImprove I assume the quote is a joke? Surely the point of private schools is to deny most students access and reinforce privilege.

  9. BramRaider

    SchoolsImprove Janet2 The scandal is that for monetary reasons pupils were allowed on courses that were unsuitable.

  10. StephenDrew72

    SchoolsImprove How can customers complain that a business (private school) that they chose to buy services from then sets high standards?

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