View from the chamber: It was right to correct it

Cllr Michael Maurice hopes that students can put the exam fiasco behind them.

Cllr Michael Maurice hopes that students can put the exam fiasco behind them. - Credit: Archant

Covid has been an unprecedented game changer for most people and has set previously untested ways that we go about our lives. It has set new challenges for people, communities, local government and indeed national government.

This dreadful virus has affected everyone and every family - that includes our hard working A level and GCSE students.

Congratulations to those of you who passed with the grades that you were aspiring to achieve. My heart goes out to those who have been unfairly downgraded. It is because of Covid that students could not sit their exams as they normally would. Clearly another method of assessing students had to be found and quickly. It was under these circumstances that an algorithm was developed to assist the exam regulator in deciding grades. I cannot tell you to what extent ministers were aware of how it worked, somehow I don’t think they were fully informed of the final detail.

Basing the results on teacher assessments alone wouldn’t be fair as there was no way of ensuring uniformity in the results. The algorithm used was experimental, it was not devised by government or its ministers but by the exam regulator Ofqual, who in hindsight should not have not written it the that way. Thankfully it has been scrapped and teacher assessments has now been employed.

What is certain is that many students were unfairly downgraded, due to various factors including the schools performance over the last three years. This is perhaps one of the worst and unfair methods of calculating grades, as the results of former students influenced this year’s results. There was quite understandably a lot of anger and disappointment which led to protests. Those who demonstrated did so in an orderly, controlled and socially distant manner.

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No government in living memory has had a pandemic like this to deal with, and though most of its actions have been for the good of the people, the way that the government and its education department, including Ofqual, has not been one of them.

The result of this is that the government has done a U-turn. There is nothing wrong with doing U-turns, it is a sign that government has listened, realised that it has got it wrong and is trying to correct things.

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Governments are run by human beings and are not infallible. Things can and will go wrong, but what makes an organisation good is when it realises that something has gone wrong and puts measures in place to correct it.

I cannot begin to imagine the worry, stress and anxiety that students and their parents have to cope with. Let us hope that soon this episode will soon be behind us and our students can look forward to fulfilling their dreams and aspirations.

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