Government forced into humiliating U-turn on exam results

The Government has been forced to carry out a humiliating U-turn on its exam results policy, hours after Liverpool Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram urged it to prevent a “tragedy” becoming a “farce”.

This afternoon the Government announced that A-level and GCSE students in England will be given grades estimated by their teachers, instead of using the Government’s algorithm which had marked down many students.

It follows widespread condemnation of last week’s A Level results announcement that saw about 40% of A-level results downgraded by exams regulator Ofqual.

Protests took place in the days after led by students deeply unhappy with their results which affected their chances of university places.

Now, however, the Government has confirmed that pupils in England will be brought in line with the other UK nations.

Earlier today Liverpool Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram called on the Government to allow this Thursday’s predicted GCSE exam results to stand.

He said: “Results season is a difficult enough period at the best of times, but over the past few months our young people have faced the additional stress and confusion brought on by coronavirus, lockdown and now the farce of A-Level and BTEC results day.

“The Prime Minister has spoken repeatedly of his desire to ‘level up’ across the country, especially in the North.

“As ever with Boris Johnson, his actions do not always marry up to his words.

“What his government has delivered with this exam results fiasco is social immobility for an entire year group of students.

“Despite having witnessed the chaos in Scotland, and the hurt and upset caused to students since Thursday, the Government still insists on sticking with its failed algorithm.

“Not only is it robbing our young people of the grades they deserve, they’re preventing universities from being able to offer places to them with fines and caps on numbers.”

He said: “I am consulting with head teachers, college principals, university vice-chancellors and our council leaders, to explore every option to ensure that our young people will not be unfairly disadvantaged.

“Given the numerous threats of legal challenge, it is time that the Government follows the lead of Scotland and Northern Ireland and lets predicted grades stand. It is important not only to deliver fairness this year, but to restore confidence in the system for future years.”

He added: “It is often said that events occur first as tragedy then as farce.

“The Government should not allow this Thursday’s GCSE results day to become a farce and should also allow predicted grades to stand.

“Our children’s futures are too important to play around with.”

Reacting to this afternoon’s U-turn, Mr Rotherm said: “I am glad that the Government has belatedly U-turned on their disastrous decision to disproportionately punish students for living in less affluent areas.

“It is a shame that it has taken five days of anger, upset and hurt for them to see sense, especially considering we had already seen the mess in Scotland the week before.

“The Government’s lack of foresight on this looks set to create a whole new set of problems with regard to university places, which I’m sure UCAS and the universities themselves will have to scramble to clean up.

“This sorry episode has done a lot of damage to young people and the Government owes it to them to ensure they are able to quickly and smoothly transition into the university they deserve.”

Earlier this afternoon, prior to the Government’s U-turn, Manchester-based mobile-first digital agency Apadmi announced that it would be ignoring the “inaccurate and controversial” A-Level grades from 2020.

Instead, it said it would only be judging all 2020 A-Level students on their further education results and interviews.

Apadmi chief executive, Garry Partington, said: “The Class of 2020 have had an incredibly difficult year, laced with uncertainty and disappointment.

“No exams, unclear grading, cancelled leavers’ proms, and no end-of-college send off has been hard – so, to top it off with results which are not a true reflection must be really worrying for them.

“We want to just say, don’t worry – we won’t be worrying about them in the future.

“We’ve made the decision to ignore A-Level grades awarded in 2020 – just getting A-levels is enough. For this year’s students, all hiring decisions will be based on their applications, interview and any future further education results.”

He added: “This postcode preference is unjust and has hit a lot of students hard. We want to do all we can to help them in future and encourage other people to think the same way.”