"We can't have a system where you buy better grades" - Leeds councillor slams exams fiasco

Leeds City Council is calling on an immediate u-turn from the government to avoid a repeat of the A Level fiasco ahead of the release of GSCE results this week.

Monday, 17th August 2020, 1:35 pm
Updated Monday, 17th August 2020, 1:36 pm

Coun Jonathan Pryor, the Executive Member for Learning, Skills and Employment for the authority, told the Yorkshire Evening Post that he hoped teacher grade predictions would be used rather than the algorithm that modifies them.

The method takes teachers' marks based upon previous performance and coursework prior to school and college closures in March because of the coronavirus lockdown and then matches it against how that establishment performs on average.

It has led to widespread criticism after around 40 per cent of A Level students across the country ended up with grades lower than they were predicted and there are fears over how that will affect students from disadvantaged backgrounds, as well as the level of chaos it will cause given that there are more GCSE students nationally than A Level.

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It was announced today that in Northern Ireland, Stormont's Education Minister, Peter Weir has scrapped a plan that would have had grades calculated using a mathematical model that took into account the past performance of schools and u-turns have also been made in Scotland.

Coun Pryor, whose council ward covers Headingley and Hyde Park, has also slammed the government for further widening social inequality gaps.

He said: "What was clear from the algorithm used for A Levels was they had a system which hugely benefited children from private schools and hugely disadvantaged everyone else. We have had reports of kids that have worked so hard for years and been predicted A* and coming out with Cs because the algorithm relates to where they live. It just kills any chance of social mobility. What we can't have with GCSEs is any repeat of that whatsoever.

"If the government are looking to use the same or similar algorithm they need to go back to the drawing board. We need to trust teachers, they know the kids best and when you look at what happened with A Levels they trusted teachers in private schools but did not trust teachers everywhere else. We can't have a two tier system where you can buy better grades."

He added that the council will be doing all it can to help students with any appeals process that they want to pursue if they do not get the grades that they were predicted.

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Laura Collins