Ofqual confirm A-level results u-turn after increased pressure from students and MPs

Teacher assessed grades will now stand for A-level and the upcoming GCSE results in England after Ofqual announced a major u-turn.

Monday, 17th August 2020, 4:32 pm
Updated Monday, 17th August 2020, 4:33 pm

Students across the country will now be awarded their teacher assessed grades after a controversial algorithm saw 39.1% of teachers’ estimates adjusted down by one grade or more, according to data from the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual).

The downgrades – amounting to some 280,000 entries – were enacted as the nation’s education officials grappled with the vexing issue of how to determine results in a year in which exams were cancelled due to coronavirus.

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Sixth form students protest against the downgrading of A-level results on August 14, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images)

And Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has apologised to students and parents affected by “significant inconsistencies” with the grading process.

Mr Williamson said in a statement: “This has been an extraordinarily difficult year for young people who were unable to take their exams.

“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.

Britain's Education Secretary Gavin Williamson (Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images)

“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.”

Last week, Ofqual said it had been forced into the downgrades by inaccurate predictions by many teachers, although the vast majority had submitted accurate estimates.

But after significant pressure from students, parents, MPs and more, the Government has gone back on its decision to use the algorithm to determine grades.

Explaining the u-turn, Ofqual chairman Roger Taylor said: “We understand this has been a distressing time for students, who were awarded exam results last week for exams they never took.

“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.

“There was no easy solution to the problem of awarding exam results when no exams have taken place. Ofqual was asked by the Secretary of State to develop a system for awarding calculated grades, which maintained standards and ensured that grades were awarded broadly in line with previous years. Our goal has always been to protect the trust that the public rightly has in educational qualifications.

“But 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.”

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