GCSE students WILL get their teacher-estimated grades on Thursday

GCSE students WILL get their teacher-estimated grades on Thursday despite doubts raised as the A-level shambles unfolded

    GCSE students will be awarded with their teacher’s predicted grades despite calls to have their results delayed in the wake of the A-level results fiasco.

    Pupils will be able to take the higher of either their adjusted grade or their estimate mark after the regulator Ofqual confirmed England would follow steps already taken by Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. 

    The move comes just a week after A-Level students, who were given a ‘triple lock’ on their results, saw 40 per cent of their results downgraded due to a controversial algorithm used by exams regulator Ofqual. 

    Following a humiliating U-turn on exams today, students will be given grades estimated by their teachers, rather than by an algorithm, later this week. 

    Today Education Secretary Gavin Williamson apologised to students and parents affected by ‘significant inconsistencies’ with the grading process which marked down thousands of teenagers.  

    GCSE students will be awarded with either their adjusted grade or their estimate mark this Thursday. Pictured: Students from Codsall Community High School protest outside the constituency office of their local MP, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson

    Education secretary Gavin Williamson acknowledging the ‘extraordinarily difficult’ year for students

    Ofqual’s algorithm, which calculated an estimated 82 per cent of A level results, took into consideration teacher ranking, but not teacher-assessed grades.

    Acknowledging the ‘extraordinarily difficult’ year for students, Mr Williamson said: ‘This has been an extraordinarily difficult year for young people who were unable to take their exams,’ he said.

    ‘We worked with Ofqual to construct the fairest possible model, but it is clear that the process of allocating grades has resulted in more significant inconsistencies than can be resolved through an appeals process.’

    He added: ‘We now believe it is better to offer young people and parents certainty by moving to teacher assessed grades for both A and AS level and GCSE results.

    ‘I am sorry for the distress this has caused young people and their parents but hope this announcement will now provide the certainty and reassurance they deserve.’ 

    The U-turn comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson last night faced fresh calls to delay this week’s GCSE results.

    Lord Baker, who introduced the GCSE system, said Thursday’s results announcement should be delayed by two weeks to allow the grades to be revised. 

    While Professor Tina Isaacs, who sits on regulator Ofqual’s advisory group, also warned that Thursday could see ‘another wave’ of grades that do not reflect those given by teachers if the government were to use the controversial algorithm system.

    Speaking on BBC Breakfast she said: ‘Ofqual’s role is to carry out Government policy. And when policy shifts every 12 to 24 hours, Ofqual then has to deal with it as best as it can.

    ‘Hence the changes to the appeals process, which now Ofqual has taken off the board so that it can give as much consideration to it as possible given the timeframe.

    ‘The GCSE results are due out on Thursday, so we’re going to have another wave of potentially, not marked down, but potentially student grades that do not reflect the grades their teachers gave them.’    

    Today MP George Freeman said the exam handling was a ‘total shambles’ and told Times Radio: ‘Ultimately, the Prime Minister is in charge. And I think he will want to take firm control of this and get a grip and show that his government is taking the life chances of a generation of children seriously…

    ‘I’m told the Prime Minister’s you know, planning to reshuffle in the autumn, and I dare say he wants to take everything into account.’

    Meanwhile Robert Halfon, Tory chairman of the Commons Education Committee, said the Government has ‘serious questions’ to answer over its handling of exam results this summer.

    A-level students celebrate outside the Department for Education in London after it was announced they would be able to receive their teacher’s grades

    Students from Codsall Community High School hold placards as they take part in a protest

    Speaking to the BBC’s PM programme, he said: ‘I had hoped that they would have developed with Ofqual what I call a Ronseal-type appeal system – that ”does what it says on the tin”, that was clear, that was easy to understand, that was fair, that every pupil should have been able to appeal via their headteacher if they had felt their grade was unfair. 

    ‘I would also have hoped that Ofqual would have gone around to the schools explaining about their standardisation process. 

    ‘None of this happened and there clearly need to be serious questions asked about what on earth has gone on.’    

    Last week, just 36 hours before A-level results were set to be released, Mr Williamson said students could now opt for the grades they got in their mock exams.

    He was forced to offer the unprecedented move after Nicola Sturgeon performed a U-turn on Scotland’s exam results. 

    Earlier this month, Scottish pupils sitting the equivalent of A-levels received their computer-moderated grades under a similar system to that being used in the UK.

    However, 125,000 results – about one in four – were downgraded from what teachers had predicted, leading to an outcry and complaints that disadvantaged pupils had been hardest hit.     

    A timeline of how the exam failure unfolded

    March 18: Schools are closed and exams cancelled as the UK grinds to a halt under the coronavirus lockdown

    March 20: Ministers say Ofqual and exam boards will work out a system for judging grades amid fears from parents that their children could lose out.

    July 11: MPs on the Education Committee warn that the calculated grades system could unfairly punish disadvantaged and minority students because of the way it is calculated.

    August 4: Scottish Higher results are released, with around 100,000 grades – a quarter of the total – marked down under a plan put in place by Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP administration

    August 11: The Scottish Education Minister John Swinney U-turns under pressure from Tories and Labour and says predicted grades will be used instead of the algorithm.

    August 11: Ministers in England decide that pupils will be able to appeal against their grades, in some cases using mock exam performance, just two days before the English results are released.

    August 13: Almost 40 per cent of A-Level results in England are downgraded by Ofqual’s algorithm, sparking widespread fury and demands for a U-turn.

    August 15: Ministers say that it will fund appeals against the marks handed out, in a bid to quell to anger.

    August 15: Ofqual withdrawals its appeal criteria just hours after publishing it, pending a review.

    August 17: Mr Williamson announces that A-Levels and GCSEs due to be unveiled on Thursday will be calculated using predicted grades, amid calls for his resignation.

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