Sunday, December 5

PM urged to delay GCSE results



Senior Conservative MPs are calling on Boris Johnson to consider delaying the publication of this week’s GCSE results until the problems with A-levels have been resolved.

The prime minister is under pressure to intervene to end the deepening A-levels crisis in England, amid growing anger among pupils, teachers and MPs, including from his own party.

The same controversial algorithm that was used to determine last Thursday’s A-level results is being used to dish out GCSE grades this week, sparking fears that millions of pupils could see their marks downgraded, after the coronavirus outbreak cancelled exams.

It has now been suggested by a senior Conservative MP that the government may need to delay publishing GCSE results until it can be sure the grading system is fair.

Robert Halfon, chair of the House of Commons Education Committee, told Sky News that the government needed to consider the possibility pretty quickly.

He said exams regulator Ofqual needs to convince schools over the next few days that its algorithm is fair and that the government must consider whether the exams system is fair and robust, otherwise confidence in GCSEs will be undermined.

We need… a fairer, wider appeals system, that anyone who feels that their grade is unfair is able to appeal… with a very fast turnaround, he added.

Mr Halfon also said that the last six months have been a national disaster for millions of children, and that attainment gaps will grow as a result of the pandemic.

It came after former Conservative education secretary Lord Baker, who introduced the GCSE system in the late 1980s, said that GCSE results should be delayed for two weeks, due to the algorithm.

The A-level results have produced hundreds of thousands of unfair and barely explicable downgrades, he said in a statement.

They have helped smaller private schools but hit the brighter students in a poorly performing state school. It is not surprising that various parties are considering legal actions. If you are in a hole, stop digging.

However, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson and Ofqual are reportedly at odds with each other over the best way to proceed.

The Telegraph says that senior figures in Ofqual want the government to U-turn on the results, and allow students to be awarded their predicted grades.

Mr Williamson has repeatedly pushed back on using predicted grades, over fears that it could lead to grade-inflation and devalue the results.

Around 280,000 students in England saw their A-level grades fall by one grade or more from their predicted results following the introduction of a new moderation algorithm, which was put in place after the coronavirus lockdown led to exams being cancelled.