Government under pressure to announce A-levels and GCSE review after Wales joins devolved nations in new grading scheme

Boris Johnson is reportedly considering ripping up the Withdrawal Agreement. Photograph: Anthony Dev

Boris Johnson is reportedly considering ripping up the Withdrawal Agreement. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Wales joins Scotland and Northern Ireland in announcing plans to scrap a controversial algorithm used to work out A-level and GCSE results in England.

A-level and GSCE students in Wales will now have their exams results decided by teacher predictions following student protests in England.

Pupils across England were left reeling on Thursday when a computer algorithm used to standardise results led to almost 40% of scores being marked down by one or more grades.

Welsh Labour Leader Mark Drakeford AM, at the launch of the Welsh Labour Party campaign in Cardiff;

Welsh Labour Leader Mark Drakeford AM, at the launch of the Welsh Labour Party campaign in Cardiff; Ben Birchall PA Archive/PA Images - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Wales and Northern Ireland have now opted to let teachers decide what marks students receive after exams were cancelled by coronavirus.


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A-level students in Northern Ireland, however, will keep their marks handed down last week.

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The move adds further pressure on the government to do the same in England, which has only offered students an appeals process.

MORE: Michael Gove's wife Sarah Vine slams government for 'confused and chaotic' handling of A-levels

Senior Tories and the architect behind the GCSEs in the 1980s say the government should postpone results until a better system can be worked out.

Politicians are trying to avoid a repeat of the A-levels debacle in England where complaints were made that the algorithm used to standardise grades marked students attending disadvantage schools down.

Education minister Gavin Williamson has ruled out allowing teachers to predict students' grades in England, while prime minister Boris Johnson called the 'triple-lock system' which uses mock exams and teacher predictions to allocate marks was 'robust' and 'dependable'.

MORE: Boris Johnson urged to cancel holiday to intervene in A-Level results crisis

Williamson will hold a press conference on Monday at 4pm to discuss the fate of A-level results, which some reports say amount in a policy U-turn from the minister.

Scotland announced similar changes to its grading system last week after protests by pupils north of the border.

On Tuesday, Scotland's education secretary John Swinney announced a major U-turn on exam results, saying that all outcomes that were downgraded this year as part of the moderation process will be reversed.

Swinney said: 'We now accept that concern [over inflation] is outweighed by concern that young people from working class backgrounds may lose faith in the education system.'

Liberal Democrat education spokesperson and leadership contender Layla Moran has called the government's handling of A-level a 'shambles'.

'Despite the warnings, the education secretary's botched handling of grade awards has left countless young people stressed and anxious. The prime minister must show leadership and personally apologise for his government's shambles.

She added: 'While it is embarrassing for the government, it has been excruciating for students. It is clear the education secretary is out of his depth. If he doesn't walk, he must be pushed.

'There is still a long way to go to clean up this mess. government must provide the clarity young people need, including supporting and resourcing universities to ensure all provisional offers are honoured.

'In addition, ministers must follow the example of the Welsh education minister and commit to an independent review of the process - that's what transparent and accountable leadership looks like.'

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