The Government must act on the A Level results injustice

Manchester Withington MP Jeff Smith is joining calls for the government to rethink its approach to grading students who have missed out on exams due to the coronavirus crisis.

Yesterday, thousands of young people across the country received their A Level results only to discover that their grades are significantly lower than they expected. 

The cancellation of formal exams due to the coronavirus crisis meant that results have been calculated by an algorithm based on a combination of teacher predictions, overall school performance and pupils’ previous grades. This has led to 40% of all grades in the UK being marked down.

The biggest impact of the changes to marking system has been felt by students from disadvantaged backgrounds. The largest share of rises in A* and A grades has gone to independent schools, with two privately educated pupils receiving an extra A* for every one pupil at a state secondary school. The gap in results between pupils on free school meals and better-off pupils has also widened since 2019.

Labour believe that ministers must follow the lead of Scotland and allow teacher assessed marks to be accepted instead of the grades allocated under the modelled system.

For schools and pupils appealing, the appeals system needs to be easier, and fees waived. We also need an urgent technical review of the standardisation model ahead of GCSE results next week.

Kate Green, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, has said:

“Across the country, thousands of young people are opening their exam results full of hope, only to see their opportunities and their futures dashed.

“This is a huge injustice. Pupils, parents and teachers are rightly angry and upset.

“The Government has had five months to sort this out. Action is needed in days, not weeks. Students should be guaranteed the right to individual appeals and the fee for appeals should be waived. Students must be treated fairly and nothing should be ruled out, even if Ministers have to follow the U-turn that was forced on the Scottish Government.”

Jeff said:

“The government needs to urgently rethink its approach to these results. Teacher assessed grading might not be perfect, but would be less unfair than the modelled grades that have been allocated.

“I’m encouraging schools and pupils to appeal their grade where possible, but even the appeal system isn’t adequate, and the government should have made the criteria and process clearer from the start.

” After the disruption caused to their education by the pandemic, students should feel supported and have faith in the marking system which has replaced their cancelled exams. Instead, thousands of young people have been let down and disadvantaged pupils face a widening education gap. The government say that they worry about grade inflation, but this shouldn’t be the main concern for this unprecedented year when pupils have had such a difficult time because of school closures.

“The next generation deserve a fair chance to live the future they’ve worked towards. The Government should take urgent action to rectify this injustice and should also require all universities to be more flexible in their approach to admissions.”

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