A-Level and GCSE results to be based on teacher assessments in major government U-turn

A-Level and GCSE students in England will receive the grades predicted for them by their teachers in a humiliating U-turn from the government following this year’s results fiasco.

Monday, 17th August 2020, 4:53 pm

The change follows mounting criticism from students, headteachers and backlash by Tory MPs over the controversial algorithm for standardising results which had been devised by regulator Ofqual.

It will mean that GCSE pupils will automatically get their teacher-assessed grades this Thursday, but it is not yet known what the process will be for withdrawing the A-Level grades already given to pupils and when they will be replaced with their predicted results.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Education Secretary Gavin Williamson – who on Saturday insisted there would be “no U-turn, no change” – had previously defended the system, which saw almost 40 per cent of A-Level centre assessment grades (CAGs) downgraded last week.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson apologised to students and parents affected by "significant inconsistencies" with the grading process intoduced after exams were cancelled due to Covid-19. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Mr Johnson cut short his holiday in Scotland to chair crisis talks between the exams regulator, ministers and senior officials on Monday morning.

Students who were awarded a higher grade following the moderation process can keep their given mark but many will see their grades increase with their teachers' predictions.

Ofqual chairman Roger Taylor apologised for the "uncertainty and anxiety" caused by the fiasco.

He said: "Our goal has always been to protect the trust that the public rightly has in educational qualifications.

Nearly 40 per cent of A-Level students saw their results downgraded last week due to Ofqual's controversial algorithm

"But we recognise that while the approach we adopted attempted to achieve these goals, we also appreciate that it has also caused real anguish and damaged public confidence.

"Expecting schools to submit appeals where grades were incorrect placed a burden on teachers when they need to be preparing for the new term and has created uncertainty and anxiety for students. For all of that, we are extremely sorry."

The decision has now put England in line with the other UK nations.

Scotland had already made the U-turn to teachers' assessed grades, while Northern Ireland announced it would do the same for GCSEs this morning.

This afternoon, the Welsh Government also said that A-Level and GCSE students will be awarded their predicted grades.

In a statement, Mr Williamson apologised to students and parents affected by "significant inconsistencies" with the grading process for the “distress this has caused.”

He 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."