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A Level results 2020: Hackney NEU says teachers should have been trusted after government U-turn

PUBLISHED: 11:38 19 August 2020 | UPDATED: 11:38 19 August 2020

Urswick students celebrate their A level results amid global pandemic. Picture: Urswick School

Urswick students celebrate their A level results amid global pandemic. Picture: Urswick School

Urswick School

Hackney’s National Education Union (NEU) is pleased with the government’s A Level results U-turn but says the exams algorithm fiasco “should have never happened”.

Following an uproar and protests this weekend the government issued a U-turn on its A-levels results grading. Picture: PA/Victoria JonesFollowing an uproar and protests this weekend the government issued a U-turn on its A-levels results grading. Picture: PA/Victoria Jones

Hackney’s National Education Union (NEU) is pleased with the government’s A-level grading U-turn but says the exams algorithm fiasco “should have never happened”.

Students’ A Level results were not based on exams this year, which were cancelled amid lockdown, but on predictions, mock exams and the attainment of previous years.

However, this algorithm led to nearly 40 per cent of marks being downgraded, and this week the government overturned that policy and said A Level, AS Level and GCSE grades will actually be based on teacher predictions alone.

NEU divisional secretary Dave Davies thinks the government should have trusted teachers’ assessments of students and what they are capable of achieving.

READ MORE: A Level 2020: Our Lady’s Catholic High School pupils succeed despite the ‘challenging circumstances’

He told the Gazette: “This should never have happened. It caused a lot of heartache and distress for a lot of students and continues to do so.”

The government’s controversial algorithm was devised to offset grade inflation by the exam regulator - Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual).

Ofqual figures reveal 35.6 per cent of English A Level grades generated by the algorithm were downgraded by one grade.

Following an uproar and protests this weekend the government issued a U-turn on its A-levels results grading. Picture: PA/Victoria JonesFollowing an uproar and protests this weekend the government issued a U-turn on its A-levels results grading. Picture: PA/Victoria Jones

“All this was foreseen, all this was pointed out to the government and to Ofqual months ago when they announced the ranking systems,” said Dave.

Dave said some students will have missed out on places at universities and BTEC students are still not sure how they will be assessed.

They were not included in the government announcement on August 17.

READ MORE: A Level 2020: The Urswick School pupils thank their teachers as they celebrate exam results

In the announcement, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson apologised for the distress caused to young people and parents.

He said: “We worked with Ofqual to construct the fairest possible model, but it is clear that the process of allocating grades has resulted in more significant inconsistencies than can be resolved through an appeals process.”

But Dave believes the entire examination system is in need of reform and was proud of students for challenging the government through protest.

He said: “On a wider issue I think the whole Covid-19 crisis will hopefully open up a much wider dialogue about the sort of system we need in schools and the support we need to give to certain students.”

In his opinion, the government is trying to hold on to former Education Secretary Michael Gove’s legacy, a rigorous “high stakes” exam system lacking in course-work and modular exams.

He is glad teacher-assessed grades, though “not perfect” will now be used: “I have taught many students who have been very talented but have struggled with exam technique. They have melt downs or struggles on the day with exams and therefore, the exam results haven’t reflected what they are capable of.“

Dave hopes the government will be held to account: “At least Gavin Williamson should resign or be sacked and they shouldn’t be allowed to just simply shift the blame onto Ofqual.”


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