Michael Gove’s wife Sarah Vine has admitted it has been a bad week for the Tories, slamming her husband’s colleagues for their handling of A-Level results.
Daily Mail columnist Vine said she would have given teachers more ‘trust’ in deciding students’ grades had she been in government.
Williamson has come under mounting criticism for his handling of the A-Level results of quarter-of-a-million pupils across England and Wales.
The grades, which were released on Thursday, found that almost 40% of marks were downgraded by one grade or more after being standardised through a computer algorithm.
This has led to claims that thousands of children attending low-performing schools have been unfairly marked down by the approach which averages a students mock exam scores and grades given by their teacher.
Standardisation was brought in by the Department of Education as a way of distributing grades to six formers who had their exams cancelled by coronavirus.
Appearing on LBC radio, Vine told host Nick Ferrari that it had not been a ‘good week’ for the government before slamming the use algorithms to calculate scores.
‘It’s not being a good week, has it? Let’s be honest,’ she said.
‘The way the algorithm works is sort of perverse because it seems to have favoured children from higher-performing schools – that is to say independent schools – and penalised bright children in state schools, which is the opposite of what anybody wanted it to do.
‘And I do think the messaging has been very confused and chaotic.’
Vine said the decision by Scotland’s first minister to bump up students’ grades north of the border following an outcry from pupils had made the situation ‘even worse’ for those across England and Wales because they would now have to compete with Scottish students for university places.
She added: ‘I personally think we should cut the kids some slack. They’ve had a terrible year.
‘With hindsight, had we known how little the virus affects children and how little they transmit it, I suspect the government would probably have tried to keep years 10 and 13 open and have them sit the exams as normal.’
Taking aim at Williamson for not allowing teachers to more say over pupils’ final grades, she said: ‘If I had been the education secretary, I would have probably placed more trust in the judgement of teachers.’
‘By and large, teachers know what their children are capable of and most of them don’t exaggerate the claims.’
She then accused Nicola Sturgeon of being ‘disingenuous’ over the reasons for raising grades.
‘Actually, she done it because it’s very nice and handy to have many first-time voters. She’s done them a massive favour, hasn’t she?’