A Level results 2020: Government exams handling branded ‘a fiasco’ by Brent union rep

PUBLISHED: 16:56 14 August 2020 | UPDATED: 17:29 14 August 2020

Students sitting exams; Gareth Fuller/ PA images

Students sitting exams; Gareth Fuller/ PA images

PA Wire/PA Images

A Brent union representative has described the government’s handling of exam results as a “whole fiasco”.

Thousands of pupils studying A Levels this year have seen their marks “downgraded” after the government calculated grades on the basis of a controversial modelling system.

The key factors included ranking order of pupils and previous exam results of schools and colleges rather than the teachers themselves.

Jenny Cooper, Brent National Education Union (NEU) joint district secretary, said she didn’t know the data for Brent schools and how many pupils had been up or downgraded, only the national picture.

“This whole fiasco has exposed the fact that our government views our young people as tranches of data, not as individuals,” she said.

“The NEU has campaigned against this for years. This episode shows that we were right on that.”

She said in a pandemic there are “difficult choices” to make and did not criticise that exams were cancelled.

“It was a really stringent process that our members had to go through to come up with their recommended grades that they worked quite hard on and caused quite a lot of stress. And then for the government to turn around and imply in state schools if it was left to us we would all automatically upgrade everyone to make ourselves look good just shows you exactly how little they think of teachers.

“In a state school today it would be very difficult for any teacher to use any kind of bias in their head as everything has to be backed up by data.”

She added: “The world is not going to come crashing to an end on the basis of risking one year group having higher grades than they should have had.

“The kids who have been going through that this year have had enough to cope with, without further punishment. It needs a U-turn.”

Education secretary Gavin Williamson said: “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.”

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