Aitchison College, Lahore.
April 09, 2020

Principal's Letter April 9

Dear Parents and Boys,

Let me further clarify the school's decision on C2, as all other year levels seem fine. Another long letter, but it should satisfy concerns expressed, while further reinforcing our preferred position. In the end, we want our boys (and parents) to feel the best they can in a very difficult year. A lot of decision-making is based on shifting ground anyway. 

Why is Aitchison supporting an AS/A Level Model?

Aitchison boys have excelled in the past three years with A Level results and university placements because of the introduction of the AS Level. It is that simple and that clear. The results speak for themselves statistically and boys have shown this to be a far better option. The year is better balanced and the work demands are evenly spread.  We believe the strongest A Levels are the most important outcome for boys, and that our IGCSE grades will be representative of previous years as submitted grades to Cambridge. The most recent advice that shifted my viewpoint is that grades will be statistically assessed in relation to past  O/IGCSE Level results. Thus, a school cannot suddenly submit excessive and unrepresentative grades. This approach is somewhat contradictory to April 2, but this change in information was crucial.

What is the problem in sitting for Oct/Nov IGCSE?

We are not opposed to choice, but if a boy waits till Oct/Nov to sit IGCSE thereby missing a major component of H1 teaching time, then only the full A Level would be possible. Equally, when you add the other commitments such as internships and SATs and ACTs then the program is seriously flawed for AS Level success. Moreover, the broad nature of Aitchison schooling will be lost. Aitchison College supports the AS Level approach because we have seen how boys 'drift' in a full A Level year. Call it 'boy-centric!'

Why is Aitchison so committed to AS Levels?

Equally crucial is the role that AS Levels play in forming accurate Predicted Grades for university admissions. Previously, Predicted Grades were essentially school based, weighted mostly on internals in H1 and to some degree on IGCSE results. In the past, predicted grades carried no other external component for roughly two years and many top universities rightly preferred AS and advised accordingly. In an AS offering, boys know precisely where they stand and the credibility of school predicted grades increases as our submitted grades are based on tangible external evidence. The benefits of this are manifestly clear when our AS correlates closely with predictions and final results. 

What about June Mocks?

June Mocks will allow those boys taking up the AS Level to have completed examinations and benefitted accordingly. This is important and consistent with what I have previously written. There should be rigour. Cambridge has yet to publish a deadline for the submission of predicted grades. We hope that this will be such that we can include the results of the Mocks in determining our predictions. If not, we are still doing the responsible thing and completing internal exams as good preparation, while the spread of results from Half yearly and other assessments encourages us that the results are very similar to past years. 

All C2 boys must sit the June Mock if school starts in June.

What if I am unhappy with my Cambridge grade or grades when they are published in August?

My advice is to wait and see, but if you are genuinely unhappy then you can revert to a full A Level. Yet again, I make the point that taking October/ November IGCSE resits will delay the start of your AS courses and you will have to sit a full A Level session of examinations in the May/June 2022 session.

In summary, boys have two options:

1.      Retain their entries for this summer’s examinations and receive grades in August. These boys will complete their AS courses and sit the AS examinations in May/June 2021. They will sit the remainder of their A Level examinations in May/June 2022.

2.      Withdraw their entries for this summer’s examinations and sit in the October/November series instead. These boys will start their A Level courses in December and continue studying until the end of the 2020-2021 academic year without sitting the AS examinations in May/June 2021. They will instead have to sit for the full A Level in May/June 2022. Withdrawals should be notified to our Exam Office no later than April 17.  

It is an either/or decision. Boys will not be allowed to retain some subjects and withdraw others.

The College can offer no better options for every boy and we have now considered everyone's  feelings. I need to stress, however, that parents and boys must think very carefully about which option they take. Our recommended position is taking into account the situation two years ahead. I feel that some are focussing too much on the present. 

Regardless of which option you take, good luck to all. I and senior staff have made our preference as clear as we can, respecting the opinions of others who may differ. This in itself is a good outcome. Aitchison will be doing its best for you no matter what. Let us hope that a June start is possible!  

Warm wishes,

Michael Thomson M.A., Dip. Ed., M.A.C.E