A-Level results fiasco: Stevenage schools promise pupils will ‘receive the grades they deserve’

Lukas, Beth and Oliver, leavers from Barnwell School in Stevenage. Picture: Barnwell School

Lukas, Beth and Oliver, leavers from Barnwell School in Stevenage. Picture: Barnwell School - Credit: Archant

Stevenage schools have said they will “work diligently to ensure students receive the grades they deserve” amid a controversial A-Level results day yesterday, which saw 40 per cent of all pupils nationally have their marks downgraded.

In a joint statement from Barclay Academy, The Thomas Alleyne Academy, Barnwell, Marriotts, and the John Henry Newman Catholic School, staff have pledged to “support students through the appeal process, so that they can progress on successfully to the next stage of their lives.”

After final exams were cancelled due to Covid-19, schools were told to make their best prediction of each student and place candidates in rank order. Grades were then awarded by exam regulators Ofqual, on the basis of a controversial modelling system taking into account schools’ performance in previous years.

Stevenage schools have admitted that this model has “not in all cases reflected the grades” of the pupils – but fell short of directly criticising Ofqual.

In the statement, they said: “Ofqual applied this standardisation process in an attempt to ensure grades awarded this year are consistent with those awarded in previous years. They felt this was the fairest possible approach available in the circumstances. This is a process that has never been attempted before.”

Stevenage Borough Council leader Sharon Taylor was far stronger on social media, saying the fiasco “has thrown our young people’s lives into turmoil” and made a mess of their “educational attainment, aspirations and future.”

She added: “Of course, not everyone gets the results they were hoping for in a normal year, but to be deprived of them by an algorithm? Shambolic!”

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Patrick Roach, general secretary of teachers’ union NASUWT, said: “No young person’s future life chances should be compromised as a direct consequence of the decision this year to cancel exams due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Employers, together with further and higher education institutions, should be encouraged to be flexible when making recruitment and admissions decisions this year.

“Lessons will need to be learned on how best to secure a more resilient qualifications system which recognises fairly the achievements of all students next year and in future years.”

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