A-level result u-turn is welcome – but no one will forget how we got there

The saga over A-level results has caused huge upset in the last week, here as much as anywhere else in the country.

In the absence of exams this year, the Conservative government’s decision to moderate the grades assessed by teachers using a computer formula based on other factors inlcuding previous years’ results saw 43% of grades awarded at Wickersley School changed. And whilst those lucky enough to be studying Latin at elite private schools were likely to see their grades increased above their teacher assessment, many students in schools across their country were more likely to be marked down regardless of the standard of their work – and there was absolutely nothing they could do about it.

The Headteacher of Wickersley School published a heartfelt open letter to the Secretary of State, Gavin Williamson, which you can read by clicking here.

Responding to the news last week on behalf of Labour councillors in the borough, Cllr Gordon Watson pointed out how the algorithm discriminated against communities like ours because of the nature of school year groups – something that the Tories had apparently been oblivous to – and how reforms introduced by the Tories in previous years had left them facing a calamity when Covid arrived.

Today, Cllr Chris Read writes in the Yorkshire Post about how the incident shows the yawning gulf between Tory rhetoric towards communities like ours and the reality of how little they understand.

“Bigger classes were always going to be worse affected, because the pull of the average is felt more strongly in the algorithm. Improving schools were going to do worse, because they’re tied to previous years’ results.

Schools in more deprived areas were going to do worse because they were denied the ability to control their own destiny.

Or looked at another way, irrespective of how hard you’ve worked, the skills you’ve gained, how every piece of work you’ve ever done has been marked, you were going to get the grades the computer wants you to. It didn’t take the finest minds in academia to see it.”

You can read his article in full by clicking here.

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