A level results: Gavin Williamson admits appeals system ‘not ready yet’ but students have Sept 7 clearing deadline


GAVIN Williamson has admitted the A-level appeal system is “not ready yet” even though students only have until September 7 to get through clearing.

The “triple lock” plan to let pupils challenge their final marks by relying on their mock exams was rushed in this week but kids have been thrown into further disarray on results day because the “safety net” isn’t ready yet.

Kids might not know their final grades for weeks to come

Gavin Williamson admitted the appeals process is “not ready”

Around 300,000 school leavers are finally getting their computer generated results today but Mr Williamson said this morning the 11th hour change to the way results can be challenged under the the “triple lock” won’t be ready yet.

The “triple lock” system means kids unhappy with their grades are able to rely on their mock exam results or re-sit the tests altogether.

Mr Williamson told Sky News: “The reason Ofqual hadn’t got it ready for today is because it’s obviously a decision that was made sort of later on in the process.

“They are working to make sure that information is shared with schools and colleges over the next few days.”

But it means many pupils disappointed by their A-levels who have already had to cope with their exams being cancelled during the lockdown will have to endure further limbo as they wait to find out how they can challenge their marks.

Mr Williams has insisted schools and students will know within a “few days” how they can appeal, but anxious kids are in a race against the clock as the Ucas deadline on September 7 approaches.

Students have to meet their academic offer conditions by that time, meaning exam boards will have less than four weeks to deal with potentially thousands of appeals from schools and colleges.

A survey of sixth form college principals by the Sixth Form Colleges Association suggested that the process for deciding A level grades is flawed and schools are calling for predicted marks by teachers is the way to address the failures.

Mr Williamson said there are processes in place for appeals but education watchdog Ofqual is thrashing out the final details on how students will be able to challenge results.

He told BBC Breakfast: “Ofqual has got processes in place for appeals, there’s a whole range of routes that schools can take the appeal process through but the mock exam was an important step forward to ensure there’s enhanced fairness for all pupils right across England.”

He added: “Ofqual is going to be issuing clarity as to how this is to be done, making sure that valid mock exams can form the basis of that appeal so that that child can be awarded that grade from that mock exam.”

To add further to the chaos and confusion, Ofqual cancelled a press conference this morning – but then announce it was back on after Mr Williamson was taken to task about the failure to get systems in place.

 Ministers have urged universities to be flexible and take into account the difficult circumstances school leavers had to grapple with while finishing off their A-levels.

But some universities are concerned that students may not even have enough time to get a final grade ahead of the start of the university term in autumn.

The University of the West England (UWE) in Bristol said that delays would cause “uncertainty around final student numbers”.