Students across the UK left with no confidence in government after botched A-level and GCSE results days
— 2 minute read — By Safia Bartley
Students in the UK have been left feeling completely let down by Ofqual and the Government after potholed results days, which saw grades dropped, raised and delayed.
In April, at the start of the UKs lockdown, the Government announced all GCSE and A-level exams would be cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic and that any grades to be awarded would be measured by a mix of previous assessment and teachers predicted grades.
However, in June, news was going round that it was suspected teachers had been too generous with their predicted grades and consequently grades were going to be dropped to more “realistic” students achievements. This was a kick in the teeth for teachers, as the Government made it clear they felt they couldn’t trust teachers to be honest and fair. Students across the UK were understandably extremely worried about the changes and annoyed at the lack of clarity regarding how their grades would now be measured. Many felt without doing actual exams, no grade could be accurate or a true reflection of their years of hard work.
When D-day finally arrived on 13th August, thousands of students were left heartbroken after seeing their grades were dropped. Almost 40% of pupils saw their grades lowered by at least a grade, causing many to lose out on university places, apprenticeships or future job prospects. It also quickly became evident that the way in which grades had been awarded disproportionately, favouring those in private education – who received an increase of 5 percent more A’s and A*’s, over public schools who only saw a 2 percent rise.
Disheartened by the lack of consideration for their efforts and unfair marking system, students around the country protested for three days straight in their towns and cities. Many positioned themselves around Westminster chanting ‘justice for the working class’ and urging for the Education Secretary to be sacked. In the end, their persistence paid off and the Government, along with Ofqual, called for a U-turn – with the results going back to the teachers original predicted grades.
This U-turn also applied to GCSE students, allowing them to be graded by their teachers’ predicted GCSEs grades too. However, due to the change not applying to BTEC students, the exam board Pearson ordered schools not to award BTEC results as they needed more time to calculate their new grades. Even though this has caused a delay, it will allow BTEC students and their grades to stand equal against GCSE students.
As of the 25th of August it was announced that the Secretary for the Department of Education had resigned. This comes following pressure from Students and Ministers, with Boris Johnson blaming the mishap on Ofquals ‘Mutant Algorithm’.
Although students can take the U-turn and resignation as a win, for some, the emotional and mental damage is irreversible. Students, parents and teachers all over have expressed their newfound, or now reinforced, lack of trust in the government’s ability to support them or treat them like people and not a simple statistic. In such unprecedented times, people expect to be able to rely on those in charge – but in this case some might say they’ve fallen short.