Coronavirus school closure: Predicted A-Level grades are wrong four time out of five

20 March 2020, 06:43

The warning has come ahead of the Government announcement
The warning has come ahead of the Government announcement. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

As schools across the nation close a university vice-chancellor was warned predicted A-level grades are wrong four times out of five.

GCSEs and A-levels in England and Wales will be cancelled due to coronavirus - although Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there were plans for students to receive qualifications.

The Education Secretary has indicated guidance about exam cancellations will be issued on Friday, including how pupils unable to sit their exams will get their grades.

Gavin Williamson said the Government would work with schools, colleges and England's exams regulator, Ofqual, "to ensure children get the qualifications they need".

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School leaders have said they expect that grades will be based on teacher assessment and evidence of internal assessment - such as mock exams - which could then be submitted to the exam boards to check.

But, Professor Anthony Seldon, the vice-chancellor of Buckingham University, was speaking after this week's announcement that exams in England and Wales will be cancelled due to the coronavirus.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said guidance would be issued on Friday about how pupils unable to sit their exams due to school closures will receive their grades.

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But Prof Seldon was quoted in the Daily Telegraph as saying: "Predicted A-level grades are wrong four times out of five.

"I know this from heading schools for 20 years, and I know from running a university now the dismay that it will cause students, and the disruption to university life.

"Have the implications of this really been thought through fully, or is an overstretched Government taking decisions of massive proportions on the wing?"

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A University and Colleges Union report from December 2016 found most predictions for A-levels inaccurate.

The report, by Dr Gill Wyness of the UCL Institute of Education, said: "Only 16% of applicants achieved the A-level grade points that they were predicted to achieve, based on their best three A-levels.

"However, the vast majority (75% of applicants) were over-predicted - ie their grades were predicted to be higher than they actually achieved."

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Meanwhile, research from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in 2011 found more than half of all grade predictions were accurate.

It added 41.7% of all predictions were over-predicted by at least one grade, and only 6.6% of all predicted grades were under-predicted."