Relief for 'terrified' Leeds families as government makes a U-turn over the Ofqual A Level and GCSE exam grading system

Thousands of GCSE students around the city will be relieved tonight after the Government did a u-turn on how it is calculating this year's GCSE results.

By Emma Ryan
Monday, 17th August 2020, 6:14 pm

Following criticism from students, headteachers and a backlash by Tory MPs, grades will now be based on teachers' assessments rather than the controversial algorithm devised by regulator Ofqual.

The u-turn from the government relates to A Level results which were released last week and also GCSE results which are out this coming Thursday.

Education leaders in Leeds welcomed the news and said while thousands of students and their families had "been terrified" by the prospect of unfairly calculated grades, there were still fears for the futures of A Level students who have been left picking up the pieces.

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A level students celebrate outside the Department for Education in London after it was confirmed that candidates in England will be given grades estimated by their teachers, rather than by an algorithm

Coun Jonathan Pryor, Executive Member for Learning, Skills and Employment, reacted to the latest development, hours after telling the Yorkshire Evening Post that the council had been calling for an immediate u-turn.

He said: "As far as we are concerned, it is great news for GCSE results which are out on Thursday. For the A Level results it is absolutely the right decision to u-turn but I hope it is not too late. A lot of universities have given out places, some courses are full and people have been rejected. I am just hoping that universities and higher education institutions will look again at people who they have turned away because of the inaccurate results they were given.

"I have already sent a few text messages to families that had been in touch, they were terrified about what was going to happen with GCSE results. It is a huge relief to thousands of families who thought they were being penalised for nothing."

Coun Pryor had blasted the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) regulation process saying it had led to a two tier education system, where people could 'buy' better grades due to geographical and inequality factors.

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He added: "It has been fantastic to see not just A Level students calling it out, but in Leeds, there was to be a protest organised by two students in university already. They were protesting about the ladder being pulled up after them and even though it didn't affect them, they could still see how unfair the previous algorithm was. It is great to see young people coming together to fight back against the government in this way."

Education secretary, Gavin Williamson said: "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.

"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.

"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."

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