Gavin Williamson makes U-turn just six seconds after his answer on A-levels

13 August 2020, 08:42 | Updated: 13 August 2020, 08:43

Nick Ferrari forces Gavin Williamson into two climbdowns over A-levels

By Adrian Sherling

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson took just six seconds to make a U-turn after claiming that Michael Gove was right to scrap AS-level exams.

A-Level students across England, Wales and Northern Ireland will get their results today, despite not sitting exams after they were cancelled due to the coronavirus lockdown.

Results in England will be based on teachers' assessments, with those predictions being put through an algorithm to ensure grades are put at the school's normal level.

In Wales, they still have AS level results to use from last year, something that Michael Gove scrapped during his time as Education Secretary.

Nick Ferrari asked the current Education Secretary whether Mr Gove made a mistake in doing so, to which Mr Williamson said: "No, not at all."

So Nick pointed out: "Well, they've been rather useful in Wales, haven't they Mr Williamson?"

Mr Williamson then admitted: "Well I have to confess I would probably rather have liked the AS system that they have in Wales today.

"But there's no point in chatting about what you would maybe like."

Gavin Williamson admitted he would like AS Levels now, even though they were right to scrap them
Gavin Williamson admitted he would like AS Levels now, even though they were right to scrap them. Picture: LBC

The Education Secretary also admitted that exceptional pupils from low-performing schools would be affected by the way the A-level results have been calculated - following an intervention from his old teacher.

Peter Ashton, a retired Politics and Government teacher at Scarborough Sixth Form College, said the algorithm used made the results a lottery.

And Mr Williamson admitted his former lecturer was not wrong.

He said: "My former lecturer Mr Ashton is always correct. There is sometimes a danger where you have an exceptionally high-performing child in a low-performing school to be in a situation where they don't get the grades they want to.

"What we've asked exam boards is that where they think there may be outliers is to be contacting the schools and talking with them to make sure appeals are put forward.

"The reason we've got the appeals process we have is to ensure that if we have a situation where a child is in that place, that they get the grades that they deserve.

"There is no system that is as good as the exam system and any other system put in place will have weaknesses compared with the exam system."

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