A-Level and GCSE results in England are now set to be determined by teacher assessment only, in a striking U-turn announced today (August 17) by government ministers.
Last week, the government announced a ‘standardisation’ policy from exam regulator organisation Ofqual, which took previous results from schools into consideration and was branded by critics as a “postcode lottery”.
The decision led to protests outside Parliament and a widespread outcry from students after 39% of results were downgraded, leading many A-Level students to miss out on university places.
Teacher-assessed results, based on pupils’ prior performance and what teachers expected them to achieve in their exams, were submitted by schools earlier on in the summer, and these grades are now set to be used instead, ministers have announced.
Roger Taylor, chair of Ofqual, issued a statement apologising for the anger that the standardisation system has caused, and admitted its faults.
“We understand this has been a distressing time for students, who were awarded exam results last week for exams they never took,” he said (via The Guardian). “The pandemic has created circumstances no one could have ever imagined or wished for. We want to now take steps to remove as much stress and uncertainty for young people as possible – and to free up heads and teachers to work towards the important task of getting all schools open in two weeks.
“After reflection, we have decided that the best way to do this is to award grades on the basis of what teachers submitted. The switch to centre assessment grades will apply to both AS and A levels and to the GCSE results which students will receive later this week.”
He added: “We recognise that while the approach we adopted attempted to achieve these goals we also appreciate that it has also caused real anguish and damaged public confidence.
“Expecting schools to submit appeals where grades were incorrect placed a burden on teachers when they need to be preparing for the new term and has created uncertainty and anxiety for students. For all of that, we are extremely sorry.”
A number of affected students spoke to NME on results day last week, sharing their frustration at the way in which they had been graded.
18-year-old Samantha Smith said: “My results weren’t what I expected; they were abysmal. My predicted grades were B C D, but I was expected to get A*s, As and Bs in my A Levels. Instead I was downgraded to a B an E and a U, which absolutely unthinkable.
“I’ve worked three minimum wage jobs to finance myself through my exams. I’ve been homeless, sofa-surfed and supported myself through the past two years. To overcome that level of adversity and be told that your postcode matters more than your potential is a massive kick in the teeth.”