How A level results day unfolded in Sunderland as students learn grades and plan next steps

Students across Wearside and beyond collected their A level and AS level results on Thursday, August 13.

Thursday, 13th August 2020, 3:53 pm

We had live updates from Sunderland schools, elsewhere in the North East and the rest of the country as thousands of young people decided on their next steps. Scroll down and refresh to see how the day unfolded.

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A level results day in Sunderland.

How A level results day unfolded in Sunderland as students learn grades and plan next steps

Last updated: Thursday, 13 August, 2020, 09:35

  • The latest updates as Sunderland students collected their exam results on Thursday, August 13.
  • Pupils receive calculated grades for each subject after the Covid-19 outbreak led to exam cancellations.
  • National picture for results following a last-minute change to the results system in England this week.

8.30am: Hello and welcome to our live updates on A level results day!

It’s Debra here looking after our live blog while reporter Sophie and photographer Stu head out to meet some of the young people collecting their results today!

Many schools across the North East are hosting remote results days this year, as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

We’ll be bringing you all of the latest updates from our city’s schools, as well as the picture nationally.

8.40am: How are exam results being worked out?

Each student in England will receive a calculated grade for each subject - but an 11th-hour announcement this week revealed that they will also be able to appeal for their mock exam grade to be used instead.

There will also be an option to sit exams this Autumn, with results of those exams expected before Christmas 2020.

8.50am: The ‘triple-lock’ approach - what does this mean for students?

GCSE and A level students in England have been assured of a so-called “triple lock” approach, essentially picking their best result.

It means students could accept their calculated grade - which will be handed out on results day - appeal to receive valid mock results, or sit their exams when schools resume.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced on Tuesday, August 11 that results in mock tests – which were held before schools were forced to close amid the pandemic – will carry the same weight as today’s calculated results.

This followed an outcry following the results of Highers exams in Scotland last week, after the moderation systems resulted in the downgrading of more than 124,000 test results.

9am: Calls for clarity over new results appeal process

Universities and schools are urgently demanding clarity from ministers on how A level students in England will be able to appeal against grades and progress into higher education.

England’s exams regulator Ofqual has said it is “working urgently” to set out how mock exam results will form the basis of an appeal following an announcement by the Government on Tuesday, but further details will not be ready until next week.

Universities are concerned the appeals system may not give students enough time to secure a final grade ahead of the start of the term, and it could also cause issues with timetabling and accommodation.

The Ucas deadline for applicants to meet their academic offer conditions is September 7, which leaves exam boards less than four weeks to issue outcomes of appeals.

9.05am: Students queue up for their results at Southmoor Academy

9.10am: Initial figures from Ucas on UK degree course places

9.15am: Huge congratulations to Tamzin! 🎉

Southmoor Sixth Form student Tamzin Toolin, 18 . Drama and theatre, - A, fine art - B, psychology - B.

9.20am: Amazing results for Tyreke! 💯

Southmoor Sixth Form student Tyreke Holness. Biology - A*, chemistry - A*, maths - A.

9.25am: Education Secretary rules out further changes to exam grading process

Gavin Williamson has ruled out making a U-turn on exam grades, amid concern over the lack of detail on the appeals process for pupils.

The Education Secretary insisted the Government would not be changing the system again after it made last-minute alterations.

Students in England are receiving calculated grades after this summer’s A-level and GCSE exams were cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Government announced late on Tuesday that youngsters can use mock exam results as the basis for an appeal if they are higher than the calculated grade.

In Scotland, protests from pupils resulted in the SNP administration allowing results estimated by teachers to be accepted.

Mr Williamson, writing in the Telegraph, argued that adopting the same approach in England would see students lose out and “devalue the results for the class of 2020”.

Asked if he was prepared to change the system again amid threats of legal action from parents, Mr Williamson told Times Radio: “We’re not going to be changing this system again.

9.30am: An update from Ucas on the latest stats

Ucas figures show 316,730 of applicants from the UK have been accepted on to their first choice of course – up 2.7% on the same point in 2019.

The number of UK 18-year-olds taking up places has risen to 30.2%. This comes despite a 1.5% drop in the population of this age group in the UK.

So far, 4% of placed UK students are currently planning to defer starting their course, which is the same proportion as at this point last year.

9.35am: This is how to appeal your GCSE and A Level results

In the event pupils are unhappy with the grade they are awarded, the right to appeal will be tightly restricted. 

Pupils will be able to use their mock exam results as the basis for an appeal if they are higher than the calculated grade.

Regulator Ofqual will be asked to determine how and when valid mock results can be used, with schools being required to submit the evidence to the exam board.

Pupils will also still be able to sit their exams in the autumn if they are unhappy with the grades they secured in their mocks, or if they are dissatisfied with results awarded by exam boards.

However, if students believe a mistake was made in their grading, they cannot directly appeal their results themselves, as only schools are allowed to submit an appeal.

9.35am: ‘Technical issues’ with Ucas website

A level students have struggled to log on to the Ucas website on Thursday morning after it crashed amid “technical issues”.

Pupils have taken to social media to complain about not being able to access the “track” section of the website, leaving thousands unable to find out whether they got the grades needed to head to university.

Responding to frustrated students on Twitter, the site said: “Ucas Track is now running as usual, we’re really sorry it was running slowly. We’re here to help if you need us.”

9.40am: A milestone day for students across Sunderland - pictures from Southmoor Academy

9.45am: ‘Thousands’ of exam results downgraded as a result of Covid-19 pandemic

Thousands of pupils’ results have been downgraded after this year’s summer exams were cancelled because of coronavirus despite record-high results.

The proportion of A level entries awarded an A grade or higher has risen to an all-time high, with 27.9% securing the top grades this year, figures for England, Wales and Northern Ireland show.

But exam boards downgraded nearly two in five (39.1%) pupils’ grades in England, according to data from Ofqual – which amounts to around 280,000 entries being adjusted down after moderation.

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