A levels

The politics of exam results

August always means an anxious wait for results days, but this year pupils will be feeling particularly apprehensive. England’s exams regulator, Ofqual, has said that national results will be lower than last year’s and are expected to be similar to those before Covid. Some reports estimate that around 50,000 A-level students will therefore miss out on getting the A* and A grades they could have expected if they took their exams last year. They will also face intense competition for top university places given the record numbers of international students applying too. Readjusting after the grade inflation of the pandemic was always going to be painful. In 2019, 25.5 per cent of A-level results were grades

How to burst the grade inflation bubble

The Tories regard a return to rigorously marked exams as one of their big achievements in education. In 2010, the year they took office, more than a third of A-level entries received an A or A* grade. By 2019, following an overhaul of the curriculum, only a quarter did. Despite the havoc wreaked by Covid on education, the government was determined to carry on this trend. That’s why last year, after exams were scrapped, the Department for Education tried to further control grade inflation by using an algorithm. It worked, in part, by assessing the past results of schools — but a consequence was that exceptional pupils from historically underperforming

Don’t blame teachers for this year’s grade inflation

Today’s A level results are unprecedented, but not unexpected. On Friday, Professor Alan Smithers  of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at the University of Buckingham said, ‘The early signs are that it will be another bumper year for grades.’ He went on to suggest that this might be, ‘justified as compensation for all the disruption suffered’. The impact of Covid-19 on the education of children cannot be dismissed as mere disruption. While adults might now be returning to the office after 18 months working from home, children struggled through two terms of lockdown learning and two more cocooned in bubbles. Grades will be high but they have been

A level students have been failed again

The world was turned upside down in 2020. Schools closed, shops shut, and planes were grounded as the global health crisis hit the world. The great institutions of our society seemed to crumble under the pressure of the pandemic. This was particularly the case for the UK’s education system, which is still failing students 18 months on. This morning, students will be receiving their A level grades, after a year of learning interrupted by constant lockdowns. I can sympathise with students this year – I experienced first-hand the devastation caused by last year’s A level algorithm fiasco. After the algorithm gave me a B, E and U, I was rejected

The class of 2020 are being failed yet again

Last year, after the cancellation of exams and the ensuing A Level results fiasco, which saw thousands of students downgraded by an algorithm, the Government promised this would never happen again. They asked students to put their faith in a system that had failed them once before, and guaranteed that lessons would be learnt. Yet, one year later, young people are being put in yet another impossible position by the education system. Despite earlier assurances from the Education Secretary that exams would not be cancelled this year, teacher-assessed grades will end up deciding the fate of the class of 2020/21. That will create its own set of problems for many