A-level student's powerful take on results controversy gives listeners "hope for the future"

12 August 2020, 13:58 | Updated: 12 August 2020, 14:14

By Seán Hickey

This A-level student is not just anxious about his own results tomorrow, but the results of people from less privileged backgrounds than him.

Monty told James O'Brien that after the Scottish government reversed grades given to over 100,000 students to predicted grades from teachers, he worried that the English government's refusal to do the same will destroy the hopes of students in England.

The student said "of the two fifths that are going to be changed, 6% are gonna be moved up, 34% are gonna be moved down," and he fears this will affect less privileged students disproportionately, as it did in Scotland.

Monty told James that he is privately educated, and James then understood his argument. "You're very very unlikely to be downgraded because of your schools position and record."

"You're going to get downgraded for the sin of attending a school that is demonstrably inferior to the type of school you and I went to," James said, after describing the method the moderation system operates on.

Monty scoffed at the Department of Education's pleas for students to have confidence in the system. "Who's going to have confidence in a moderation system that's done over 124,000 Scottish students?"

Monty told James he believes students from less successful schools will suffer from the new grading system
Monty told James he believes students from less successful schools will suffer from the new grading system. Picture: PA

"There's got to be more clarity," the student said.

James wondered if the government's reasoning for standing by the system was motivated by not wanting to follow the lead of Scotland.

Rather than using predicted grades, the English government has offered that if students aren't happy with their results, they can use their mock exam grades rather than a teacher prediction.

"Politically, I worry in the current climate that they might think that what the Scottish government done was the best way to respond, but they can't copy them because of the political capital that would be lost," James said.