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Exam results

APS students triumph in PISA tests

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a worldwide study. It is completed across seventy-five developed countries and measures the performance of 15-year-old school pupils' in mathematics, science, and reading. Every three years the tabloids trumpet how poorly the UK countries do against chart toppers such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Finland. Although there are many grounds on which the tests can be questioned, the results have again been accompanied by a bout of hand-wringing, doubting the effectiveness of the British education system on grounds which do not resonate with the experience of students, parents and staff in the vast majority of our schools. 

Last year students at Alexandra Park School were randomly selected to take this test as part of the English cohort. The students received no additional coaching. Indeed, the school played down the importance of these tests as the last thing a year 11 needs during their mocks is more stress. They sat the 3 hours of tests beginning at 7.00am on a cold December morning in the knowledge they could not even expect to receive results. Or so we thought.

Having encouraged the students involved to recognise the value of participating in such a huge research project, which provides all sorts of valuable information, it was initially concerning to see the negative coverage of the UK results this week.  We hoped that the students wouldn’t connect the test that they had done to the stories in the media, that they wouldn’t feel that they had underachieved, and be deflated by the experience.

pisa graph 02

Last week we received the school’s results. It doesn’t include individual student results but remarkably this cohort of APS students topped the chart. Yes, that’s right they topped the chart. Their results were significantly better than each of the 75 countries that took part.

We have long known the performance of our students is outstanding.  APS has previously been recognised as being world class.  And we still have reservations about the value of PISA tests.  But it is pleasing for the students involved to know that their achievements compare so favourably with students across the globe. And it turns out that our students did exceptionally well.  In fact, their average performance far exceeded that in any of the seventy-five countries.

Interview on BBC Radio

Read the full article on BBC News


If we may be permitted to blow our own trumpet...

It's official.  The Department for Education 2015 performance data positions Alexandra Park School at the top of the local league tables.  The attainment, progress and value added data for students studying GCSE, vocational and A-level courses places the school ahead of all but the selective schools in North London.


Curriculum Changes - AS and A2

New AS/A levels from 2015/16

As part of the government’s education reforms, AS/A level courses will start to change from September 2015.  In the first year, many of our most popular courses will be changing – art, biology, chemistry, economics, English, history, photography, physics, psychology, sociology and textiles.  In subsequent years more subjects will be reformed.

The main principles of the reform are as follows:

Key changes

  • The biggest change relates to the relationship between AS and A levels.  These qualifications will be entirely separate, although there will be significant overlap in content.  Results in AS examinations will not count towards a final A level grade. 
  • Students will need to complete A level examinations at the end of Year 13 in all units for which examinations were taken at AS.
  • Resits of specific units will not be available – to complete a qualification, students must sit examinations in all units in a single summer examination series.
  • Assessment will be by examination as much as possible.  In phase one coursework will be removed from all subjects apart from English and history (20% in each), art, photography and textiles (100%).  There will also be an element of practical assessment in sciences. 


  • Grading will remain the same i.e.  A* - E for A level, and A – E for AS.
  • In 2015/16 students will continue to complete AS level examinations at the end of Year 12 and A level examinations at the end of Year 13.    
  • The level of demand of AS is intended to be the same as the current qualifications.
  • Most students will continue to pursue 4 courses in Year 12 and all will still be required to complete at least 3 courses in Year 13.
  • Universities will consider AS grades when making decisions regarding course offers.

There will also be content changes in many subjects, for example the requirement that all students study a period of at least 200 years in history and other assessment changes such as a greater focus on spelling, punctuation and grammar in the awarding of marks in all subjects.  Further details of changes in individual subjects are included in our Curriculum Guide as soon as they are available. 

It is important to note that some aspects of these proposals are subject to further discussion between the government, Ofqual and the examinations boards and could be changed prior to implementation.

Timescale for AS/A level reform 2015 - 2019

1Phase 1 - Art, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Economics, English, History, Physics Psychology, Sociology

2Phase 2 (from Sept 2016) - Drama, Geography, MFL, Music, RS

3Phase 3 (from Sept 2017) - Classics, DT, Maths, Media, Politics / All others