A-levels and GCSEs: Free exam calls for schools in England

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There has been widespread concern about the fairness of the “calculated” results.


The government will cover the cost of schools in England appealing against exam scores after 280,000 A-level students have had their scores downgraded.

Ministers are also expected to set up a task force, led by Schools Minister Nick Gibb, to oversee the appeal process.

The government had previously said it wanted the process to end on September 7.

But letting schools appeal for free is “cold comfort” for students, the Liberal Democrats said, adding that the move “should never have been necessary.”

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson told The Times the government would cover the fees to ensure principals are not deterred from making calls.

There were fears that the costs – which can reach £ 150 – could prevent schools from taking on more difficult to prove cases.

The regulator, Ofqual, will give more details next week.

Almost 40% of the A-level grades awarded on Thursday were lower than teachers’ forecasts, angering schools, colleges and students.

The new grades meant that many were running out of college places. But Oxford’s Worcester College has said it will honor any places it offers UK students, regardless of their A-level results.

‘Cold comfort’

The Liberal Democrats welcomed the announcement of the appeal fees, but called on Mr Williamson to resign.

Party education spokeswoman Layla Moran said: “For the young people who have worked so hard not to get the results they deserve through no fault of their own, this announcement alone will be cold comfort. ”

“While it should never have been necessary, it is fair that the government listened to the Liberal Democrats and others and turned around. ”

Ms. Moran added: “Ultimately, after Gavin Williamson’s sloppy handling of the process so far, the students will have no confidence in him to mend the broken glass. Before he hurts any more he has to go. ”

Earlier, the Labor Party called on ministers to act immediately to resolve an “exam fiasco” in England and prevent thousands of A-level students from being “betrayed”.

And some Conservative MPs have questioned the fairness of the way the ratings were determined.

BBC News political correspondent Helen Catt said having “an efficient and effective” appeals process “will be really important to ensure that more Conservatives do not join them”.

‘You ruined my life’

Schools Minister Gibb earlier vowed that the appeal system would be “robust” after facing an appeal from a student who said he was rejected by the university of his choice.

During Any Questions on BBC Radio 4, Nina, from Peterborough, said her grades were three lower than she had been predicted. “You ruined my life,” she told him.

“It won’t ruin your life, it will be fixed, I can assure you,” Mr. Gibb said.

He added: “There will be these errors… we know there are imperfections somewhere in the system because of this model. There is no model that can improve this, that’s the problem. “

After exams were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, grades were assigned using a controversial modeling system, with key factors being the ranking order of students and the results of schools’ previous exams and colleges.

This produced more top marks than ever before in the A levels, with nearly 28% scoring A * and A, but principals were angry at the “unfathomable” individual injustices in the demotion of some results. .

In England, 36% of entries had grades lower than their teachers predicted and 3% were down two grades.

Since then there have been calls to abandon this system and use teachers’ forecasts, as the government has turned back in Scotland.

But English exam watchdog Ofqual warned that using teachers’ predictions would have artificially inflated results – and would have seen around 38% of entries get A * and Aces.

Labor said the lack of consistency in individual results was ‘heartbreaking’ for those affected and the government was squarely responsible for sticking to a ‘deadly flawed results system’.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously defended what he called “solid” grades and said students who felt they were being treated unfairly could appeal or, if they wanted, take exams in the fall.

Schools can request an upgrade if their students’ simulated scores were higher than their estimated scores.

But the exam regulator Ofqual has yet to say how a mock exam result can be validated – and principals have warned that mocks are not standardized or taken by all students, and cannot be used as a fair way of deciding final exam results.

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