We welcome today’s (17/08/2020) announcement that all A level and GCSE results will now be awarded on the basis of centre assessed grades. Following the release last week of A levels and level 3 BTECs it became clear that a grave injustice had been enacted on our young people. A significant number of students were awarded grades by an algorithm which bore no resemblance to the results that they would have achieved if they had sat the examination; and were significantly lower than the ones awarded by their schools.
Since then, we have been working tirelessly both to support disappointed young people and to lobby the politicians to review the strategy for awarding grades and make the decision which was finally announced today. We were particularly worried that the GCSE results which are due to be released on Thursday would be awarded by a similar methodology with the consequence that even larger numbers of students would receive the wrong grades, based not on their ability or work ethic, but on the historical data of previous students.
Whilst there is some concern that this will lead to “grade inflation”, there is no other solution which ensures that students are not punished, through no fault of their own, if other schools have been a bit optimistic in arriving at centre assessed grades. We accept that this is an extraordinary year and it is not therefore reasonable to compare this year’s outcomes with those of previous years.
Lorraine Heath, CEO of Uffculme Academy Trust, which includes Uffculme School, Axe Valley Academy and Holyrood Academy stated, “I am both relieved and delighted that young people will finally be awarded grades determined by the people who best know their capabilities rather than a computer algorithm allocating grades on the basis of pre-determined quotas. However I am also incensed that so many students have suffered the stress and disappointment of receiving incorrect grades. A large number of students still do not know if they will be able to go to their first choice university and for some those places have already been filled up. It was an entirely avoidable situation and the distress it has caused has been completely unnecessary.”
We are also concerned that today’s announcement does not apply to vocational qualifications such as BTECs. These are typically undertaken by some of our more disadvantaged students and those for whom practical learning is most appropriate. A number of these students have received U grades for exams which they did not sit. It is important that this decision is revisited and we urge the Department for Education to include these qualifications in today’s decision.
We would like to thank all of the school leaders, students and families who have lobbied and shared their stories and whose actions have led to today’s decision. We are now looking forward to sharing the GCSE results with our students on Thursday.