Some of the fiercest criticisms of the government’s handling of the way A-Level grades are calculated has come from the right-wing newspapers.
Education secretary Gavin Williamson and prime minister Boris Johnson had little room for cover on Tuesday after the mainstream press criticised the pair over its decision to ditch the A-Levels standardisation process in favour of awarding students marks based on teacher predictions.
The move came after huge student backlash over the use of a computer algorithm to predict grades which resulted in almost 40% of results being downgraded by one or more grades.
Leading the charge, the Daily Star went all out with its frontpage, calling Williamson a ‘clown’ before urging for him to be sacked.
Editors at the paper went one step further and used a heavy dose of sarcasm to advertise for his position: ‘Job spec for the soon-to-be vacant role of secretary of state for education.
‘Are you a moron who couldn’t organise a booze up in a brewery? Have you caused untold worry to a generation of schoolkids with your utter incompetence? Then there’s a job for you at the heart of government.’
The Daily Mail, regularly a solid supporter of Tory administrations, published a cartoon of Johnson and his education secretary as Lauren and Hardy with the headline ‘Another Fine Mess,’ and asked why Williamson was still in a job and when the prime minister would ‘get a grip.’
The Sun, which held its tongue at the height of the Dominic Cummings eye test saga, gives Williamson a haranguing with its frontpage: ‘A = Anger, B = Balls-up, C = Chaos, D = Dunces, E = Errors, U = U-turn, F = Farce.’
There was one paper, however, that leapt to the government’s defence. The Daily Express, which has been perhaps the most vocal in its support of the prime minister, described the U-turn on A-Levels a ‘victory for common sense’.
The Daily Telegraph splashed a picture of Williamson running below the headline ‘Williamson shifts blame on to exam watchdog after grades climbdown’ while The Times warned there would be a ‘scramble for university places’ for tens of thousands of students ‘still facing doubt over their futures’.