Academic Results 2021

At Forest, we are delighted that our pupils have been awarded excellent A Level and GCSE grades (TAGs) this week. At the outset, it is worth clarifying once again the nature of these grades and the unique context within which they have been awarded because teachers and the Leadership Team have worked incredibly hard to provide fair and accurate grades for Forest pupils who faced down considerable challenges, using a system that cannot be directly compared to public exams.


As we know, the pupils did not sit common examinations but instead have been awarded Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGS) after studying in circumstances utterly unlike those experienced by any previous cohorts, including last year’s cohorts. Both year groups have displayed remarkable determination throughout the past two academic years, in moving between in-person and online teaching, adapting to changing guidelines, and in their response to the uncertainty surrounding this year’s assessments. The Forest staff have been integral in preparing and supporting the pupils, both in an academic and pastoral sense.

Just as the School is proud of its whole response to the pandemic, the commitment shown by teaching and support staff to provide pupils with academic and co-curricular opportunities has ensured that as much normality as possible has been allowed throughout the lockdown periods. We very much hope the pupils will be pleased with their final grades and will understand what those grades contribute to their overall sense of what they have achieved at Forest and the sort of impressive young people they have clearly become.

What is a TAG again?

Whilst there has been no external system of standardisation or published grade boundaries to ensure parity between schools, as per JCQ and Ofqual guidance Forest has used evidence from different pieces of assessed work to inform the TAGs, balancing all the available evidence to reach a fair and robust judgement that respects the pupils’ proven ability.

Some press reports this week have inaccurately referred to the TAGs as ‘predicted grades’, although schools were explicitly tasked with setting the grades based on pupil performance rather than potential or a prediction of what a pupil would have got had they sat the exams. We have also taken into consideration any special circumstances that may have impacted pupils’ performance in the assessments used to inform the TAGs.

Scrupulous process

The process undertaken at Forest has followed Ofqual guidance scrupulously in all aspects, and parents have been kept fully informed of the guidance as it was made available to schools throughout the year. As encouraged to do by Ofqual, we have carried out individual pupil assessments to ensure Forest grades have integrity and value for each pupil.

The grades have been moderated internally at three different levels and a sample of the assessment evidence has been checked by the Exam Board following our submission of proposed grades in June. In short, Forest has passed every quality assurance check put in place by Ofqual, JCQ and the exam boards at every single stage.


As such these assessment grades cannot form a benchmark for the future or be compared to any other year (or indeed any other school), but in our view it is important that Forest pupils receive proper recognition for their dedication and initiative over the course of the pandemic. These grades show Forest pupils achieving extremely high evidenced levels of academic achievement which will allow them to progress to the next stage of their education (or to the world of work) and confirms they have made the progress and developed the appropriate skills to ensure they can take that step with confidence.

Meanwhile, the collective results confirm that Forest is continuing to build academic momentum. For both cohorts these grades continue a steady, realistic increase in terms of Forest results, not a one-off opportunistic spike that would be neither educationally responsible, nor align with the values of Forest as a school where growth and development are properly hard-earned.

The last time either of these cohorts sat exams was Y13 sitting their GCSE examinations in 2019 when they achieved outstanding results with 75% of the 1400 individual GCSE exams sat by the cohort being graded at A**/A*/A (9/8/7). It is therefore right that the same cohort’s TAGs show their continued strength as a year group, just as our internal tracking of Y11 confirms them to be a particularly bright year group too – that potential being borne out in their similarly strong TAGs.

So, we are proud to publish these results and offer them as due reward for our pupils’ hard work for which they deserve hearty congratulations. Forest is very proud of their achievements. In Pectore Robur!

Grades Awarded: A Level 2021 (TAGs) – Cohort 136 pupils 

A*/A:      60%

A*/A/B:  84%

  • EPQ results: 90% A*/A
  • Forest pupils will be moving on to a wide range of ambitious courses, institutions and activities.
  • A significant number of students will be taking up very high prestige apprenticeships with companies including Visa, Morgan Stanley, PwC, and Accenture.
  • Other Forest students will be embarking on a wide range of courses including: Neuroscience, Philosophy, Physics, International Relations, PPE, Product Design, Psychology, Anthropology, Theatre, Sports Science, Theology, Aeronautical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Computer Science, Economics, English Literature, Geography, History, Law, Medicine, Dentistry, Mathematics, Modern Languages, Neuroscience, and Veterinary Medicine.
  • In terms of Health Sciences: 2 students will study Veterinary Medicine, 4 Medicine, 1 Dentistry and 1 Nursing.
  • 75% of Forest students have taken up places at Russell Group Universities – including Manchester, Leeds, Oxford, KCL, LSE, Imperial, Warwick, Durham, and Bristol.
  • 1 student is off this week to start at Boston College USA.
  • 4 students will start Art Foundation courses next month.
  • We have supported 16 Old Foresters in their PQ applications this year.
  • Over 120 Forest students have got into their first-choice institution.
  • Courses for students who joined Forest in the Sixth Form (achieving 36% A* and 67% A*-A) include: Sussex (International Relations), York (Spanish and Linguistics), Exeter (Law), Liverpool (Veterinary Medicine), Exeter (Politics), Manchester (Neuroscience with Entrepreneurship), Nottingham (Politics and International Relations), Warwick (Sociology), Manchester (Mechanical Engineering), Durham (Geography), Surrey (Chemistry), Loughborough (Sports Management).

More than ever this year, the key to our students’ success is them ending up studying their subject of choice at the university or college of their choice with all the learning characteristics they have developed during the challenges and disruptions of remote learning and lockdown standing them in good stead for making their next steps.

As always, there are stories of great excellence and individuals who have need our support working out their next move – a large staff team has been busy all week supporting them all.

Grades Awarded: GCSE 2021 (TAGs) – Cohort 156 pupils (82 boys/74 girls)

A**/A*/A (9/8/7):  85%

  • Year 11 can celebrate all that they have achieved which is captured, in part, by their impressive grades. They can take a moment to look back on all the ways they have developed across their GSCE courses and then, more importantly, look ahead to their 16+ studies.
  • HPQ results: 85% A*/A
  • Forest Year 11 pupils have chosen a truly diverse range of A Level subjects to explore which will lead to a range of higher education pathways and careers in due course.
  • Subjects chosen show a fair balance of Science and Arts.
  • Of the 1400 individual GCSEs sat by this cohort, 1190 individual GCSEs were awarded at 9/8/7
  • Boys 9/8/7: 86% – Girls 9/8/7: 85%. As can be seen, both boys and girls operating at very high academic levels. Clearly, no lag in boys’ results, as one of the emerging national narratives is suggesting.

“In September just a few years ago, these A-level and GCSE cohorts started their journey through the Senior School at Forest. Immediately welcomed into their Houses, supported by outstanding pastoral care, they were – in true Forest style – strongly encouraged to be intellectually curious and to engage fully inside and outside the classroom. And they have done just that. Little did they know what lay ahead, but they have finished their GCSE or A Level journey as better learners and having added so much to themselves in their time at Forest. Including these grades. As we often say, grades are what you have achieved, not who you are. These pupils are exceptional young people whose genuine academic strength has been rewarded with excellent grades. Well done!”

Marcus Cliff Hodges, Warden.