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Islington NEU slams ‘shameful’ A Level grading system

PUBLISHED: 13:04 14 August 2020 | UPDATED: 13:04 14 August 2020

Education secretary Gavin Williamson outside Downing Street. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson outside Downing Street. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

Islington’s National Education Union (NEU) has criticised the algorithm used to calculate A Level results this year.

Ken Muller from the Natonal Education Union at a climate change strike. Picture: Lucas CumiskeyKen Muller from the Natonal Education Union at a climate change strike. Picture: Lucas Cumiskey

With exams cancelled amid the coronavirus lockdown, A Level grades this year have been awarded based on predictions and moderation by exam boards and Ofqual - the regulator of qualifications, exams and assessments in England.

However, nearly 40 per cent of grades in England were lowered from teachers’ predictions in the moderation process, with concerns that private schools have benefitted and disadvantaged areas hit hardest by the system.

READ MORE: A Level 2020: Islington students receive results amid coronavirus pandemic

Ken Muller, press officer at Islington’s NEU, told the Gazette: “Gavin Williamson (secretary of state for education) has failed his test. “What he has done to the thousands of children who have been disadvantaged by the system he has cobbled together at the last minute is shameful.”

If pupils are unhappy with their assigned grade, they can use mock exam results as the basis for an appeal or sit an exam in the autumn.

Ken, a retired history and politics teacher, said using mock exams shows “ignorance” of the way they are used - he says either as encouragement with easy questions or an incentive with hard papers.

He said those results often “underestimate” the grade achieved in the formal exam: “It completely misunderstands the nature of examinations, and with everything Gavin Williamson has done, the government should hang their heads in shame.”

On August 13 when the teenagers were given their A Level grades, Mr Williamson said: “Hundreds of thousands of students have received a calculated grade today that will see them progress to the next stage of their education or into work with a record number of 18-year-olds in England securing a place at their first-choice university.

“This year we’ve seen an increase of 2.5 percentage points in A* and A grades and more than 96pc of grades are either the same as the one submitted by schools or colleges or within one grade.

“Standardisation ensures grades are fair for students - without it, we would see results that were substantially inflated, significantly undermining their value.”

He described the appeals system as a “triple lock” for “difficult cases”.


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