Ofqual Chairman Says It Was A “Fundamental Mistake” To Believe Algorithm Grades “Would Ever Be Acceptable”

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Roger Taylor defends Ofqual’s role in the exams fiasco during an appearance in front of MPs.

Speaking to members of the Education Select Committee on Wednesday, the head of the exams watchdog delivered a damning assessment of the Education Secretary’s role in this summer’s A-Levels fiasco. 

Ofqual suggested to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson that they be held in a “socially distanced manner” due to COVID-19, Mr Taylor added, or if not to delay them.

They also recommended that exams were delayed, with exams being cancelled altogether a third option.

But he said that the Education Secretary took the decision to cancel exams and implement a system of calculated grades “without further consultation”.

Mr Taylor told MPs that the situation was “rapidly getting out of control” and policies were being put forward by Mr Williamson that “weren’t consistent with our legal duties”.

Mr Taylor added: “It was the secretary of state who then subsequently took the decision and announced without further consultation with Ofqual that exams were to be cancelled and the system of calculated grades were to be implemented.”

He said the government was warned that cancelling exams and opting for calculated grades would be the “worst-case scenario”.

Mr Taylor told MPs that the situation was “rapidly getting out of control” and policies were being put forward by Mr Williamson that “weren’t consistent with our legal duties”.

Labour’s shadow education secretary Kate Green said the evidence raises “serious questions” about the education secretary’s role in the exams furore.

“Gavin Williamson has repeatedly tried to blame Ofqual and officials for the crisis over exams. It is now clear he was responsible,” she said.

When the results were released it was revealed that nearly 40% of A-level marks had been downgraded in England.

The system also appeared to advantage private schools, which saw nearly double the number of increases in top marks year-on-year compared to state comprehensives.

Boris Johnson was accused of “shamelessly trying to avoid taking responsibility” for the debacle after blaming the “mutant” algorithm.

The prime minister had previously defended the system, describing the marks given to students as “robust” and “dependable”.

Related articles:The Tory Class Divide: Downgraded A-level students urged to join possible legal action

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