Friday 14 August 2020 11:01 am

Labour call for government U-turn on A-levels ‘fiasco’

The Labour Party has called today for the government to scrap its system for allocating A-level results after thousands of students’ results were downgraded by the statistical model used to moderate grades.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tweeted: “The unprecedented and chaotic circumstances created by the UK government’s mishandling of education during recent months mean that a return to teacher assessments is now the best option available.

“No young person should be at a detriment due to government incompetence.”

Education secretary Gavin Williamson defended the government’s approach, saying: “Standardisation ensures grades are fair for students – without it, we would see results that were substantially inflated, significantly undermining their value.

“I know there are some really difficult cases, and we have already put support in place to help those students, including an enhanced appeal process. In addition, our triple lock process means students will be able to accept their calculated grade, appeal on the basis of a valid mock result or sit an exam in the autumn.”

Read more: More than one third of A-level results downgraded as Gavin Williamson comes under fire

In Scotland, the SNP administration apologised after thousands of pupils had their Highers results downgraded after a statistical moderation.

The SNP said it would instead rely on teacher assessments after the moderation appeared to target pupils from more deprived backgrounds more harshly.

In England, the statistical moderation system introduced by the Department of Education and Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) has also been accused of discriminating against bright pupils from deprived backgrounds.

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner told ITV that the system used had “a disproportionate impact on children from disadvantaged backgrounds” and called for assessment to be based on pupils’ predicted grades.

Read more: With five months to prepare, the A-level results fiasco is a scandal of the government’s own making

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Ofqual have been clear that the standardisation model does not distinguish between different types of schools and colleges, and therefore contains no bias, either in favour or against, types of schools or institutions.

“This year, a record number of 18 year olds from the most disadvantaged backgrounds in England have been accepted into university – up 7.3 per cent from last year.”

Starmer also said the system used to moderate GCSE’s must be looked at before those results were released next week.

“Time is running out. We need action in days, not weeks. That also means an urgent technical review of the standardisation model ahead of GCSE results next week.

“We need to end this fiasco,” he said.