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A-level farce deepens as Ofqual SUSPENDS appeals criteria without bothering to say why

THE A-level farce has deepened as Ofqual suspends the criteria for students to appeal against poor grades – without giving a reason why.

Fretting pupils wanting to challenge the grades handed out from a widely criticised algorithm were told the appeal policy is now “being reviewed”.

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The move comes just hours after the body published its criteria for mock exam results to be considered as the basis of an appeal.

Thousands of disappointed A-level students were rejected from their first choice universities due to downgraded exam results.

The Government were lambasted with criticism as A-level students said they had been “let down and betrayed” by the marking algorithm, bought in as exams and lessons were scrapped across the country due to coronavirus.

A whopping 39 per cent of teacher-predicted grades were cut by the computer algorithm – sending results day into meltdown.

In the fallout, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson gave a “triple lock” commitment promising students could use the highest result out of their teacher’s predicted grade, their mock exam or sitting the actual exam in the autumn.

However, Ofqual now says if the mock result was higher than the teacher’s prediction, it was the teacher’s prediction which would count.

It threatens to plunge the A-level process into further disarray following an outcry from students after almost 40 per cent of predicted grades were downgraded by the regulator’s “moderation” algorithm.

In a statement late yesterday, an Ofqual spokesman said: “Earlier today we published information about mock exam results in appeals.

“This policy is being reviewed by the Ofqual board and further information will be published in due course.”

The regulator said while mock exams did not usually cover the full range of content, the assessments took into account a student’s performance across the whole course.

Shadow education secretary Kate Green said: “Gavin Williamson promised to give students a triple lock, but instead he left many devastated by unfair exam results, and now his commitment to give them another chance is rapidly unravelling.

“Having promised that students will be able to use a valid mock result, the reality is that many will not receive these grades even if they represent a student’s best result.”

The latest setback comes as ministers were braced for a fresh backlash when GCSE results for England are announced on Thursday.

Like the A-level results, they will initially be based on teacher assessments and then “moderated” by the Ofqual algorithm to bring them in line with previous years’ results.

Mr Williamson said the process was necessary to prevent “grade inflation”, after actual exams had to be abandoned due to the coronavirus outbreak.

However critics complained it has led to thousands of individual injustices, disproportionately penalising students from schools serving disadvantaged communities.

Geoff Barton, general Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said the Qfqual document was “surreal and bureaucratic”.

He urged the Government to follow the example of Scotland – where there was a similar outcry – and abandon the moderated results and go back to teacher assessments.

Meanwhile Mr Williamson has defended Ofqual’s grading method in a column in the Sunday Express.

He wrote: “No system that was put in place was going to be able to replicate the exams process.

“But the calculated grade overseen by Ofqual makes certain that everyone can be confident that these qualifications carry the same weight as previous years.

“And our triple lock process means if any young person is unhappy with their result, they can appeal on the basis of a valid mock exam and, in England, have the chance to sit exams in the autumn.”

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