A-level results: Exams in chaos after Ofqual about-turn on grade guidance

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Meanwhile, Gavin Williamson defends exam grading system, ignoring calls to scrap downgrades for A-levels

Exams regulator Ofqual has said it is reviewing its guidance published on Saturday on how to appeal A-level and GCSE grades using mock exam results.

It comes just hours after Ofqual explained what constitutes a “valid” mock exam for students appealing against A-level results in England.

The regulator has now suspended that criteria, and further information will be published “in due course”.

Almost 40% of A-level grades were marked down from teachers’ predictions.

Neither A-level nor GCSE students were able to sit public exams this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ofqual said earlier on Saturday that, where a written mock exam was not taken, it would consider other teacher assessments instead.

However, a statement on Saturday night on the regulator’s website read: “Earlier today we published information about mock exam results in appeals.

“This policy is being reviewed by the Ofqual Board and further information will be published in due course.”

The criteria under which it would accept a “valid mock assessment” was stipulated earlier as:

  • Supervised, unseen and undertaken in conditions intended to secure the work as the student’s own
  • Either past assessments produced by the relevant exam board, or assessments developed by teachers
  • Taken under timed conditions
  • Completed before 20 March 2020, when schools and colleges were closed
  • Marked using a mark scheme provided by the relevant exam board
  • Graded in line with the exam board’s examination standard

Labour complained that under the Ofqual criteria, some students would not be able to use their mock results as the basis for an appeal if the assessment did not meet the criteria.

Gavin Williamson is under mounting pressure to follow Scotland’s lead and ensure all A-level pupils receive their predicted grades.

Amid a growing furore over results, which due to coronavirus have had to be determined without exams, John Swinney, the Scottish education minister, on Tuesday announced a major U-turn after close to 125,000 students had their predicted results downgraded by a moderation process.

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