A Level results: Teachers’ uproar as 40% of grades pulled down ‘unfairly’


TEACHERS have lashed out this morning after exam regulators revealed that 40 per cent of A Level marks were pulled down.

300,000 students across the country this morning have been getting their A Level results – despite not sitting any exams this year because of the coronavirus crisis.

Megan missed out on her place at Leeds university as she didn’t get the grades she hoped for

Teachers initially gave all their students marks based on what they thought they got.

And then computers and moderators were used to standardise the results.

Exam boards downgraded nearly two in five (39.1 per cent) pupils’ grades in England, according to data from exam regulator Ofqual.

On the most chaotic A Level results day in years:

  • Fresh data showed record levels of As and A*s despite the crisis – up by 2.4 per cent on last year.
  • 98.3 per cent of students across the UK passed their A Levels with grades A – E.
  • But experts warned that poorer kids were more likely to have their grades pulled down.
  • 35.1 per cent of A level students received 1 grade lower than their teachers marked them.
  • Gavin Williamson admitted the appeals system isn’t ready as thousands prepare to try and use their mocks as final grades

Kids can’t launch an appeal, but the schools can do it for them – and they can use their mocks to decide on a grade after a last-minute change of plan.

However, exams regulator Ofqual haven’t yet set out the details of how to submit these appeals – and what mocks will be valid to use.

Students can also choose to sit the exam in the autumn too, and pick the best mark they have available.

Commenting on today’s A-level results in England, Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said the system was having a “devastating impact” on kids today.

He blasted: “While there has been an overall increase in top grades, we are very concerned that this disguises a great deal of volatility among the results at school and student level.

“We have received heartbreaking feedback from school leaders about grades being pulled down in a way that they feel to be utterly unfair and unfathomable. They are extremely concerned about the detrimental impact on their students.

“This is in terms of both the number of grades lowered, and some students’ results being pulled down by more than one grade.”

He said “the statistical process has proved to be far too blunt an instrument and has created clear injustices.”

Teachers are calling on the Government to review the system as a “matter of urgency” but Mr Williamson has insisted there will be no more changes.

Mr Barton added: “It is not sufficient for the government to dismiss these concerns by saying that schools and colleges can attempt to battle their way through the appeals process, or that students who are not satisfied can enter the autumn exam series some seven to eight months after they finished their courses, and are no longer at the centre where they studied.

“We have done everything we possibly can to support the grading process in difficult circumstances, but there is a time to say enough is enough.”

A-level student Megan, from Hull, received A, B, B when she was predicted three As.

She bravely told GMB she would have got the required grades to go to Leeds University if she had taken the exams. 

Her principal Paul Britain says it is “completely unfair”.

Megan said: “I got an A and two Bs. I needed three As to get into the University of Leeds.

“That was my three predicted grades from my teachers. So I’m a bit disappointed.

“I think I could have got my three As if I did my exams which I’m sad about.

“I think I deserved three As so it’s annoying. I’m just hoping Leeds will let me in with these grades.” 

Mr Britain said: “It’s completely unfair when students like Megan when an algorithm, some sort of standardisation process has meant she hasn’t got the grades that she should have got.

“Yes, hopefully you’ll still get into the university, but it’s still not right that these young people haven’t got the correct grades.”

Michelle Meadows from Ofqual admitted that poorer kids did have their grades pulled down more than richer ones.

She said earlier today:

“We have done a great deal of analysis of the final calculated grades to ensure there is no evidence of bias.

“We have also looked at centre assessment grades. You will be able to see an analysis according to socio economic status.

“The research literature shows of A level predictions for university entrance is that there is a tendency to be more generous for students of lower socio economic status.

“So there will be a tendency for there to be more generosity.

“The important thing is to look at the analysis for the end grades students take away – you can see there is no evidence of systematic bias.”