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National Politics

A-Level & GCSE Predicted Grades to Apply

I was pleased to hear that Ofqual has listened to public opinion on the issue of A-Level and GCSE results and issued a statement, which includes:

We understand this has been a distressing time for students, who were awarded exam results last week for exams they never took. The pandemic has created circumstances no one could have ever imagined or wished for. 

Roger Taylor, Chair of Ofqual

I think it’s very important to remember that the situation was not of the government’s creation – a system of results was needed without exams taking place – something had to be created. It’s understandable that a system of predicted grades would cause worry amongst bureaucrats and the wider educational sector, allowing teachers to essentially give out whatever grade they liked for a student. But that worry was mis-placed and belied a level of distrust towards the professionalism of teachers and their ability to act in a fair-handed manner.

The system was proven to be broken too with as many as 40% of grades being adversely affected. With an “error rate” that high the algorithm was clearly not fit for purpose.

There are questions for Ofqual to answer over its handling of this catastrophe in education, and wider questions will rightly be asked too. No public body is beyond scrutiny and I am proud we have strong scrutiny systems across our country – including the ones operated by the public.

I am also proud that many parents and young people used their voice to marshal public opinion on this issue. We can also be proud to live in a country where the government listens and responds. It’s not always easy and it makes for a degree or turbulence, but I would rather a government that listens than one that crushes dissent.