GAVIN Williamson ignored pleas from exam bosses not to cancel socially distanced exams this summer, disgraced Ofqual chiefs claimed.
In a bid to wash their hands of the A-levels scandal, the boss of the exams watchdog said it was a “fundamental error” to can exams and award results on predicted grades.
Roger Taylor said Ofqual wanted to go ahead with socially distanced exams, its second choice was to delay them and third option was to offer a “teacher certificate”.
But he told the Commons Education Committee that Mr Williamson rejected all three and cancelled all GCSEs and A-levels.
Mr Taylor said it left Ofqual with no choice but to award exam results on the basis of predicted grades.
Laying the blame squarely at the feet of Mr Williamson, he said this “worst-case scenario” was a “political decision”.
But he told MPs that it was a “fundamental mistake” to believe Ofqual’s algorithm for awarding grades “would ever be acceptable to the public”.
And the Ofqual chief admitted the model for awarding grades had given an advantage to private school pupils.
His comments sparked a fresh row with the Government over who was to blame for the exams fiasco.
Allies of Mr Williamson insisted all option had been considered and the Cabinet minister was in constant consultation with officials but the uncertainty of the pandemic at the time had made exams untenable.
Mr Taylor told MPs that Ofqual’s initial advice to ministers in March was to try and hold the summer exams in a “socially-distanced manner”, with the second option being to delay exams.
He said: “The third option – if neither of these were acceptable – would be to have to try and look at some form of calculated grade.
“We did also look at whether that might be a teacher certificate rather than attempting to replicate exam grades.
“That was our advice to ministers.
“It was the Secretary of State who then subsequently took the decision and announced without further consultation with Ofqual that exams were to be cancelled and the system of calculated grades were to be implemented.”
He said that opting for the third option of calculated grades was the “worst-case scenario”, adding that it was a “political decision”.
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