'Gavin Williamson should resign over continued exam confusion': Former Ofsted chair

14 January 2021, 09:53

By Fiona Jones

Former Ofsted chair Dr Zenna Hopson said she would tell Gavin Williamson to resign if he were to ask her how to solve the ongoing issue with grading GCSE and A Level students.

It comes after the education secretary indicated that A-level, AS and GCSE students in England could sit 'mini exams' to aid teachers with grading.

In a letter to exams regulator Ofqual, Mr Williamson defended this suggestion, promising not to use an algorithm to assess pupils with led to controversy - and then a Government U-turn - last summer.

Nick Ferrari asked the former Ofsted chair: "Gavin Williamson phones you and asks what we should do to assess pupils as GCSE and A Level exams are not going ahead. How would you reply?"

"I suggest you resign?" Dr Hopson said, pointing out that it is young peoples' lives that Mr Williamson's decisions affect.

"We've had time to plan, we could have put something in place and they've just relied on 'let's do the exams'," she said.

The former Ofsted chair suggested local solutions: "You have a local moderation board, based on a national framework overseen by local authorities, that would be fair...it's something that Ofqual can easily pull together."

Association of School and College Leaders President Richard Sheriff also responded to Mr Williamson's suggestion for 'mini exams', telling Nick, "I'm not sure that Gavin Williamson knows what he's describing."

"This has been a mess, the fact there has been no plan B ready to go is of real concern, and something that we advised the minister of months and months ago...any national exam will not work."

In the letter to Ofqual the education secretary said: "A breadth of evidence should inform teachers' judgments, and the provision of training and guidance will support teachers to reach their assessment of a student's deserved grade.

"In addition, I would like to explore the possibility of providing externally set tasks or papers, in order that teachers can draw on this resource to support their assessments of students."