Shadow Education Secretary brands Gavin Williamson "utterly incompetent" over exam result fiasco

20 August 2020, 14:02 | Updated: 20 August 2020, 20:38

By Fiona Jones

Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green calls for the Government to investigate the "utterly incompetent" Gavin Williamson over the exam results fiasco.

Nearly half a million UK pupils face a fresh round of results chaos after exam board Pearson pulled its BTec results on the eve of publication.

Pearson said it would be re-grading all its BTecs to bring them in line with A-levels and GCSEs, which are now being graded via school-based assessments after a major Government U-turn.

Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green reflected that it is better to "get it right than get it wrong" with these results: "To take so long to get it right, to ignore warnings weeks ago about problems that are only just now being acknowledged...I think that's a dreadful way to treat young people.

"Utterly, utterly incompetent, disgraceful."

It has been reported that exam regulator Ofqual was warned of the flaws about a month ago and pressed ahead anyway with the downgraded results - Nick put this to Ms Green.

Shadow Education Secretary brands Gavin Williamson "utterly incompetent" over exam result fiasco
Shadow Education Secretary brands Gavin Williamson "utterly incompetent" over exam result fiasco. Picture: LBC/PA

She responded: "I'd like to know who to blame for this, it seems that the Department for Education, the Secretary of State was warned by a former senior official in the Department about problems with the algorithm that would adjust the grades.

"I'd like to know what was done with that warning, who saw it, how did they respond to it, what discussions took place between the Secretary of State and Ofqual."

Ms Green called for the Government to publish this correspondence to determine how this happened.

She reflected that if there were warnings that the algorithm might operate to discriminate against certain students, with more disadvantaged pupils doing worse, "then they should have taken urgent steps to adjust the algorithm."

"I would be absolutely saying if I were the Prime Minister I need to take charge of this, this is an absolute shambles," Ms Green said, "instead he went off on holiday and left it in the continuing incompetent hands of Gavin Williamson."

She said of Gavin Williamson and Schools Minister Nick Gibb, "I don't know how they can look young people in the eye, their job is to protect the futures of these young people and they have let them down so so badly. I do think they should be having a very very hard look at their role in this chaos."

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