GOVERNMENT “SORRY” EXAM FIASCO FOR
THE voices of young people were heard loud and clear this week, as Northern Ireland, Wales and then England all decided to award GCSEs and A Levels based on grades predicted by teachers, after Scotland did the same thing a week ago.
There were huge protests after A Level results were released and it became clear that many students felt cheated by the computer program used to award grades this year.
The Government and exam regulators thought it was the fairest way to award grades after exams were called off because of the pandemic, but many pupils saw their marks drop by several grades. The downgrades particularly affected pupils from disadvantaged areas, as the marks were adjusted partly based on a school’s past performance.
“We understand this has been a distressing time for students,” said Roger Taylor, head of exam regulator Ofqual, before adding that he was “extremely sorry”. The apology may be too late for some students who were rejected from their first choice of university.
Sarah Hannafin, senior policy advisor at the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), told us that the situation was “really hard to justify” and that the Government and Ofqual have no plan B for next year, if exams can’t go ahead as scheduled. “It ignores the possibility that there’ll be future impact from COVID-19 on students in the next academic year,” Sarah says. “We know there could be local lockdowns, or individual students who have to quarantine.”
She is also worried that the “potential for unfairness between students next year is quite great”, due to how differently students were affected by the lockdown this year. She says that schools need to know now whether grades will be awarded by teachers again, to make sure that teachers and pupils don’t have this stressful situation in 2021.