Don't downgrade our students. Accept teachers’ assessments for A Level and GCSE results this year for every student in the UK.
I must admit that even after the last three years as a Member of Parliament, I still consider myself a teacher at heart.
When I was in education I always agonised in the days and months before results day, and truthfully this year has been no different.
In June I wrote to Qualifications Wales, the WJEC and to the Minister for Education in Wales, Kirsty Williams MS, to express concerns that students might unjustly be awarded a lower calculated grade.
I was assured that ‘a fair and robust approach to issuing grades to the summer 2020 cohort of GCSE, AS, Alevel and Welsh Baccalaureate Skills Challenge Certificate learners is adopted, which includes determining the approach centres must follow in arriving at judgements of their learners’ attainment standardisation of centres’ judgements and ensuring an avenue of recourse is available for those learners who do not believe that the process has been followed correctly in issuing their grades.’
I appreciate that coronavirus has forced us to find a new solution to how we move our students forward into their next stage of learning without sitting exams, but I do not believe that what we’ve seen from Governments of all stripes within the United Kingdom has been good enough in dealing with this issue.
I’ve been through the turmoil and stress with my A level and GCSE students in the past. I’ve spent years working through coursework, mocks, and exams and I know the pressure this puts on our young people and at the end of the road we expected them to be fairly rewarded for their work. Sometimes a student can have an off day or a bad exam, but they always had the opportunity to re-sit and put the situation right themselves. However, for many of our young people this year, through no fault of their own, this hasn’t been the case.
The sense of fair play and the belief that a student can make of their life what they wish has been completely smashed to pieces. I can only imagine how crushing that must be for a young person who will have worked hard for 18 months, only to have the rug pulled from under them, first by coronavirus and then by an unaccountable algorithm.
The situation we find ourselves in is flat out unacceptable and well-being of our young people must be the key focus going forward. To do that I believe we can’t leave the fate of their future up to a computer.
We need to listen to the people who know their potential the best.
Therefore, I am adamant we should accept teachers’ predictions for A Level and GCSE results this year for every student in the UK.
This is an exceptional year and regardless of “grade inflation “students should be awarded grades their teachers think right. Colleges and employers will appreciate the uniqueness of this academic year, and kids in less affluent areas will not have been shut out from an education achieved by high attainment because of an unjust algorithm.
We need action in hours not days or weeks. I implore the First Minister and the Prime Minister to right this wrong.