Ahead of tomorrow’s A level results day we thought it worth explaining how we plan to report the day, and the thinking behind it.
For the past two weeks I’ve canvassed opinion on what people dislike about media coverage of results days – A level and GCSEs – and what they would like to see.
People seem to really dislike:
– Stories focused on kids getting billions of A*s
– Kids sobbing because they got Bs
– The constant referral to ‘top universities’
– Stories claiming that results ‘show’ something about a policy
– Twins. People really really hate stories about twins.
People say they want to see:
– Analysis of results and trends
– Stories about children getting a broader range of results, and going on to a broader range of things. (I.e. ‘not just Oxford).
– Pictures of children with their feet firmly planted on the ground.
So what are we going to do tomorrow?
After mulling over the feedback, and thinking about what we – as the specialist press – can add to national coverage, we’ve decided to focus on two things:
1. Clear analysis of the results – When the data starts dropping, I’ll be wrestling with the data to bring out the important nuggets and trying to add some policy context. Yes, we’ll share ‘interesting nuggets’ but also drawing out policy conclusion and consequences where possible. And being honest where it isn’t.
2. Secondary moderns – We’ve been speaking this week with the secondary modern schools, located around the country in areas where children still take the 11-plus, which have sixth forms and in almost all cases teach A levels. Given that the vast majority of their intake were labelled as ‘less academic’ at age 11, we figured it would be an interesting twist to focus on their successes.
There is, admittedly, a danger with focusing on secondary moderns. It can mean that people say “see, the grammar system works, these students were still fine”. But it seems unfair to ignore successes in a much-ignored group of schools simply because it might raise an inconvenient, overly-simplistic point.
So we’re plunging in headfirst. And if, as many of you said, you are looking for a genuine variety of stories then check out our A Level Results LiveBlog tomorrow to see what we find.
We will also be doing the usual round-up of reactions, thoughts from government, etc. But the whole team have NO TWINS OR LEAPING etched in their minds.
Good luck to all those waiting for results tomorrow, our fingers are crossed for you.