The Class of Covid 2021

If I hear grade inflation one more time, I will not be held responsible for my actions.  

On Tuesday this week, I drove my older daughter to school, where she ripped open the envelope with her A-level results. Based on what she found in the envelope, she is likely to be labelled as having been awarded unfairly inflated grades. Except, she really wasn’t.

If it were up to me, I would have added an A star in Resilience, Endurance and Determination, and a Distinction in Keeping Her Shit Together to the three straight As she had achieved. 

Earlier this year, when the government announced that the official A-level and GCSE exams were to be cancelled and replaced by teachers’ assessments, my daughter took it in her stride. Her Sixth Form college was among thousands others which decided to place the bar at least as high as any external exam board would have.

Assessment after assessment followed, a piece of previously unscheduled coursework after another piece of previously unscheduled coursework, two sets of mock exams, in the form of pre-PPEs (pre-Pre Public Examinations) followed by PPEs. It was relentless. All this punctuated by periods of self-isolation for the whole year bubble, whenever one of the students tested positive. Key members of teaching staff got sick too, and were not available for weeks at a time. My daughter carried on, setting herself her own deadlines, weekly goals and assignments.

The (cancelled) external end of year exams were replaced by… internal end of year exams. These exams were identical to the pre-Covid ones in everything but the name and level of formality, with added ambiguity and uncertainty as to how exactly they were going to be marked and graded.

My daughter plodded on and persevered. Night after night, throughout autumn, winter, and spring, she was frequently the last one to switch off her lights. We hardly saw her during the weekends, when she was only emerging for food. She worked insanely hard. What’s equally impressive, through all of this, she kept her sense of humour and perspective. She recognised that the challenges she was facing were not the end of the world on the greater scale of things.

She deserves everything she found in that envelope. Also, huge respect for her teachers for recognising that.

On Thursday this week, I drove my younger daughter to school, where she ripped open the envelope with her GCSE results. Based on what she found in the envelope, she is likely to be labelled… I don’t flipping think so.

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