Open letter to Year 13 A level students

This is not a letter that I was planning to write. I don’t know you and you don’t know me.

But I couldn’t let you disappear without saying something about the last few months and their impact on your year group.

It’s not fair.

It’s not fair that you didn’t get to experience the rite of passage of sitting your final school exams, of leaving parties and packed awards evenings and non-socially-distanced farewells to your friends.

But you knew that already.

The reason I am writing is that to add insult to injury, some of you have received results that may not be a fair reflection of your ability, as assessed by your teachers. Instead, those results have been calculated on the basis of an algorithm which has replicated the pattern of results for previous years at school and at the national level.

In many ways, this is a very fair process. It is designed to ensure that an A* at A-level in 2020 means broadly the same as an A* in 2019 or 2021. But its impact on individual young people can be iniquitous, as you may have seen from the many heartrending stories in the media over the past 24 hours.

We do not yet know the full details of the appeals process that will be available. But I do know that the staff at SSV have been working extremely hard to ensure that any detriment that you experienced does not impact on your choice of destination.

That is, after all, the role of A-levels. They open the door to the next stage of your educational career, but they do not define you. The real value and purpose of education lie not in the certificates that you collect, but in the values, skills, knowledge, and relationships that you have developed. And, in that respect, what now seems unfair may turn out to be a precious opportunity.

[A-levels] open the door to the next stage of your educational career, but they do not define you. The real value and purpose of education lie not in the certificates that you collect, but in the values, skills, knowledge, and relationships that you have developed. And, in that respect, what now seems unfair may turn out to be a precious opportunity.

Your year group has had a unique set of experiences. You will cherish things that older generations have taken for granted. And you will, I have no doubt, be better equipped to deal with the real and varied challenges that we face because of the perspective that the last few months have given you.

So good luck and congratulations! I hope that many of you will come back to BSN in the future to talk about your accomplishments and to recount your memories of your time here, including these final few difficult months.  And that, when you do, I finally get to meet you!

Sincerely,

Heath Monk

 

Heath Monk, CEO, The British School in The Netherlands