AS A-LEVEL results came in yesterday morning head teachers warned that lowered grades are ‘unfair and unfathomable’ while teachers said that the results were based on algorithm rather than the student’s performance.
In England, 36% of entries had a lower grade than teachers predicted and 3% were down two grades, in results for exams cancelled by the pandemic. Controversy has surrounded how results have been decided.
There was ‘deep frustration’ in schools about the confusion caused by late changes to the results system, including the use of mock grades, said Geoff Barton, leader of the ASCL head teachers’ union.
‘While there has been an overall increase in top grades, we are very concerned that this disguises a great deal of volatility among the results at school and student level,’ said Barton.
‘We have received heartbreaking feedback from school leaders about grades being pulled down in a way that they feel to be utterly unfair and unfathomable. They are extremely concerned about the detrimental impact on their students.’
Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said: ‘Students have been knocked from pillar to post this year through no fault of their own. In Scotland, many pupils suffered a week of real anguish over lower grades than they expected, only for their centre-assessed grades to be reinstated.
‘Years of misconceived structures in the exams process have come back to haunt the Westminster government. Students have been downgraded for reasons which to them will be obscure.
‘So not only will the result be devastating, but many will discover it has nothing to do with their own performance and everything to do with the past attainment of their school. Student prospects this year were governed by an algorithm, and the unfairness of that process has been fully exposed.’
The University and College Union (UCU) said ministers had to stop trying to pull a rabbit out of the hat to fix the A-levels fiasco and keep things simple.
UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: ‘Ministers were warned this would happen, but pressed ahead anyway.
‘The secretary of state making things up as he goes along is helping nobody.
‘His last minute triple lock brought another set of complications and likely appeals, and talking about delayed starts for some students now is just adding to the chaos and confusion.
‘Universities have been needlessly making cuts and threatening redundancies because of the uncertainty created by the government.
‘Without substantial government support, any delayed start will simply create further chaos for students and unbearable workloads for staff.’
NASUWT teachers’ union General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach, said: ‘Pupils have faced an enormous amount of uncertainty and anxiety over the arrangements for receiving their A-level grades and their options if they are unhappy with their results.
‘Whilst it will be appreciated that the coronavirus pandemic has created very challenging conditions for students and for schools and colleges, last minute changes to the arrangements for this year’s awards have heightened the stress and anxiety for many young people.
‘No young person’s future life chances should be compromised as a direct consequence of the decision this year to cancel examinations due to the pandemic.
‘At the centre of this latest political storm are those young people whose futures depend on their awards and the consequences of ministerial decisions.’
BA workers demonstrate at Heathrow against the company’s mass sackings last Wednesday.