With some of the best schools in the country we’ve become used to local students getting good A level results, This year’s results came as something of a shock. the COVID-19 pandemic had created exceptional circumstances with schools closing and summer exams cancelled. Grades were to be determined by a detailed process in schools taking into account things like mock exams but also looking at previous grade distribution and value added scores. in short teachers used their experience and professionalism.
But the Government chose to then apply an algorithm to standardise grades which benefited smaller cohorts in private schools and penalised bigger sixth forms especially those making most progress in recent years. The effect in some local schools was to lower half the grades.
The problem could not have come to a surprise to Ministers. Earlier Scottish Ministers had gone down the same track only to u turn and apologise. Saying sorry seems particularly difficult for English Ministers to say.
Universities offered flexibility but for many students the damage was already done. Panicking Ministers offered an appeal route using mock exam results but then the appeal process became unfit for purpose.
Many of the student’s stories were harrowing and helped me to make the case for the Government to think again. A coalition of local schools, parents and students added to the pressure. When the back-down came it seemed inevitable but the question remains why didn’t Ministers see there was a problem earlier instead of arrogantly pressing on, making the distress for students and parents even worse?