Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 50 Number 32, August 22, 2020 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

Government Humiliated over Pupil Grades

Unions Take a Stand

National Education Union (NEU) press release, August 13, 2020

Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

"After months of defending the system devised by Ofqual to determine this year's GCSE and A-Level grades, Gavin Williamson has been forced into an embarrassing U-turn. He should have listened to the concerns raised much earlier by teachers and assessment experts. Ignorance and inaction appear to have been his watchwords."

NEU: Government forced into U-turn on A-Level exam grades, August 17, 2020

Commenting on the decision, Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

"Gavin Williamson has, finally, done the right thing. The pity is that he has done so having exhausted all other options. Students and their teachers have endured days of completely unnecessary stress and worry. For many students, this announcement will generate further uncertainty if they have been rejected from their first-choice course, and university, on the basis of the inaccurate and unjust Ofqual awarding process.

"Young people have suffered enough. They have few chances in the jobs market as the country faces rising unemployment and recession. It is right that the cap on university places has been lifted, so that more young people, who have worked so hard for their A-Levels, can continue their studies and fulfil their potential.

"One of many lessons for government to learn from this sorry saga is to listen to the profession. The Department for Education's determination to put all eggs in one basket through a single set of summer exams has come back to haunt them. It is very much a disaster of their own making.

"This is a shameful episode. It must never happen again. The U-turn in Scotland includes a long-term review of the assessment methods used to award qualifications, including the possibility of more coursework and systematic, moderated teacher assessment, and it is critical that the same occurs in England.

"We not only need a careful and systematic review, but an absolute assurance to next year's GCSE and A-Level students that this cannot and will not happen again."

NEU Cymru welcomes use of assessed grades in Wales. August 17, 2020

NEU Cymru hugely welcomes this decision from the Education Minister.

Speaking about the Education Minister's announcement to use assessed grades for A-Level and GCSE's this year, David Evans, Wales Secretary for the National Education Union Cymru said:

"NEU Cymru hugely welcomes this decision from the Education Minister. Students will be heartened to hear that their teacher assessed grades will be used for both A-Level and GCSE - giving justice to our students who have had a very difficult time in recent months.

"Wales was already in a more sensible place than England - with students still taking AS-Levels, and grades being more reliant on course work. But this is great news for young people, and the teachers and lecturers who have supported them.

"This all goes to show that we need to trust teachers and lecturers. We believe they know young people best, and shows what a loaded system exams are. We congratulate the young people on joining together and seeking justice. We hope now that universities can be flexible, and help support the young people to ensure they have a future based on their potential - not the calculations of a biased computer programme."

NASUWT comments on exam grades U-turn, August 17, 2020

Commenting on the U-turn by the government on A-Level and GCSE grades for summer 2020, NASUWT General Secretary Dr Patrick Roach, said:

"Young people have faced an enormous amount of uncertainty and anxiety as a result of the government's chaotic handling of this summer's qualification awards.

"The Coronavirus pandemic has created very challenging conditions for students and for schools and colleges, but the government's mishandling has undermined public confidence at this critical time.

"No young person should have their future life chances undermined by a set of circumstances outside their control.

"However, at the centre of this latest political storm are young people whose futures have been left unacceptably at the mercy of last-minute decision-making by Ministers.

"The calamity that has been left to unfold over recent days has impacted not only on those young people who were receiving their awards this year, but also the confidence of the thousands of pupils who are now preparing for examinations next year.

"Urgent lessons need to be learned about how to secure a more resilient qualifications system for the future that will give confidence to pupils, parents and teachers, and recognise fairly the achievements of all students."


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