Reflections on A Level Results Day 2020

Thursday 13 August, 2020, was an extraordinary and highly unusual day. Results days are about coming together and celebrating the hard work and efforts of our students and are a key point in any school leaver’s life. A Level results day this year, however, was preceded and followed by endless headlines and media speculation, confusion, conjecture, as well as considerable anxiety and unnecessary angst. The day itself felt lacking, with schools across the country unable to hold their customary celebrations and there was and remains so much uncertainty in the air about the results themselves. The virus has turned our world upside down and for this particular year group they have had a great deal taken away from them, from sitting examinations to key milestone moments to say the least; they have been robbed of so much. This said, I could not be more proud of our Class of 2020. Every single one of our year 13s deserves praise for getting through this year so admirably, with focus, maturity, patience and determination. They have absolutely embodied our motto of Fear Nothing. They are an incredible and exceptional year group and I congratulate them wholeheartedly on their hard earned A Level results and all that they have achieved during their school careers. They have put up with, and been through, a great deal recently, been let down by too many systems and leaders who should be looking out for them, and I hope that they can eventually begin to move on and start to plan with optimism for what comes next.

For any student who fell foul of the ‘algorithm’ and centralised moderation my heart bleeds for them; the poignant words of one amazing student, herself a victim of a mechanical system, will stay with me for a long time. As she left school on results day she said, ‘I have been standardised’. This is not a sentiment that any school leaver should feel; year 13s at Sydenham High and across the country deserved and deserve so much more. They are, after all, our future and as such I hope that the future will be kinder to them than the past few days, and indeed months, have been. They will no doubt make that difference that we need in society in years to come and I am excited and optimistic about what our Class of 2020 will go on to achieve and the positive impact they will have on the world. I have certainly never known a more determined and resilient year group and I admire and applaud them all. Yes, we have some appeals to make, some corners to fight but congratulations to our Class of 2020 on their superb results and I am hugely grateful to their teachers and parents for helping to get our leavers to where they are today. With the overriding majority now heading off to their first choice university destinations, they deserve every success in whatever they do next and all our school leavers take with them our very, very best wishes for the next exciting chapter in their lives, and beyond.