"Ofqual would have known the exam algorithm would affect the poorest hardest"

17 August 2020, 17:04 | Updated: 17 August 2020, 17:22

By Fiona Jones

A former Ofsted chief told LBC that Ofqual "would have known their algorithm would hit the poorest hardest" and that there would be "an undue advantage" to independent sixth forms.

After days of mounting pressure and with students up and down the country left in dismay after having their results downgraded by a computer algorithm, No10 changed its policy on exam results to allow teacher assessments to dictate student grades.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, head of Ofsted from 2012-2016, hailed this U-turn "the right decision...to give justice and fairness to the youngsters."

He explained that Ofqual, the examination regulator, had the job of ensuring the algorithm put in place would accurately grade pupils.

Sir Michael said: "When the autopsy is done on this, I'd be very interested to know how much Ofqual had consulted the interested parties, headteachers and stakeholders because at some stage they would have known what the effects of this algorithm was going to be."

"They would have known that it was going to hit the poorest hardest, they would have known that big sixth forms in the state sector were going to be hit the hardest."

"They would have known there was going to be undue advantage to small sixth forms particularly in the independent sector, they'd have known all this.

"At what stage did Ofqual, and particularly its leaders, say to ministers this isn't going to work? And you will be facing the following implications."

He said that at some stage "there's going to have to be a lot of digging into the entrails of what happened early on and who knew what and when, and how much did they consult with head teachers and others.

"And how much did they say to Government about the implications of this?"

Eddie asked Sir Michael if "heads were going to roll" for this, to which Sir Michael replied that ultimately it is the Government's final responsibility to hold the agencies to account.