A-level students can be 'confident' in their grades, Minister says

12 August 2020, 08:23

GCSE and A-level students in England will be able to use grades in mock exams to progress to university and college courses and employment.
GCSE and A-level students in England will be able to use grades in mock exams to progress to university and college courses and employment. Picture: Getty
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Education minister Nick Gibb said the system for assessing A-level and GCSE results remained "robust and fair" following the latest Government changes.

The Minister defended the Government's eleventh-hour decision to allow A-level and GCSE students in England to use their mock exam results.

Results in mock tests - which were held before schools were forced to close amid the Covid-19 crisis - will carry the same weight as the calculated results to be awarded this month, Gavin Williamson announced on Tuesday.

But now students in England awaiting their A-level and GCSE results can keep their grades in mock exams if they are higher than the calculated grade, with regulator Ofqual asked to determine how and when valid mock results can be used.

Students will have to go through the appeals process to use their mock exam result, with their school required to submit evidence to the exam board.

"I am confident that we have a system in place now that is fair and robust and will enable young people to go on to the next phase of their lives," he told Sky News.

Mr Gibb told LBC that the new appeal process would only apply to a "small group of pupils," he said 40 per cent of grades will have been adjusted when the exam results are issued on Thursday.

"There will be students that fall outside the system," the Minister told Nick Ferrari, adding that pupils would be able to take an exam in the autumn if they were still not happy with their adjusted grades.

"It is just making sure at the edges that no student is disadvantaged. This is just to give a safety net for any student who might fall through the system," he said.

"It will only affect a small group of people. Most young people tomorrow will get the grade that the teacher sent in to the exam board that they thought they would get."

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Shadow education secretary Kate Green described the Government's announcement on English students using mock exam results to progress to college and university as "chaotic".

The MP for Stretford and Urmston said one of the problems is many students would not have sat mock exams.

"I don't think this is a perfect answer at all to what is now becoming a really chaotic situation," she said.

"And very, very worrying for (A-level) students the day before they're due to get their results finding the system changing again."

She added: "Not all students will have even taken mock exams and what we've now got is a system which clearly is not fit for purpose. The Government itself is clearly acknowledging that by announcing more and more changes to it."

Ms Green said there needed to be a "proper robust" appeals process for students so that they are not dependant on "systems that may not fairly reflect the work that they've done".