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A level results: UCAS ‘late clearing process’ for A-level students who didn’t get grades as appeals system ‘not ready’

STUDENTS could need to rely on a “late clearing process” through UCAS if they want to challenge their grades after the Education Secretary admitted the appeals system is “not ready”.

Students would normally have a hard UCAS deadline of September 7 but Gavin Williamson said there needs to be some flexibility because kids may not know their final results by then.

Around 300,000 school leavers are finally getting their computer generated results today but Mr Williamson said this morning the 11th hour change to the way results can be challenged under the the “triple lock” won’t be ready yet.

The “triple lock” system means kids unhappy with their grades are able to rely on their mock exam results or re-sit the tests altogether.

For kids who do decide to sit the A-level exams in the autumn rather than relying on their mock grades or computer-generated marks there is expected to be a “late clearing process”.

Mr Williamson said this morning: “Universities are looking at being as flexible as possible.”

“We have been working with the university sector and we’ve had early discussions about making sure there’s a system of clearing that can be run for youngsters to be able to start their university a little bit later (than September/October)

“(They will) be in a situation of where they’d be able to join the university in January and running a sort of late clearing process.”

The Education Secretary admitted the process for appealing marks was not ready yet.

He told Sky News: “The reason Ofqual hadn’t got it ready for today is because it’s obviously a decision that was made sort of later on in the process.

“They are working to make sure that information is shared with schools and colleges over the next few days.”

But it means many pupils disappointed by their A-levels who have already had to cope with their exams being cancelled during the lockdown will have to endure further limbo as they wait to find out how they can challenge their marks.

Mr Williams has insisted schools and students will know within a “few days” how they can appeal, but anxious kids are in a race against the clock as the Ucas deadline on September 7 approaches.

Students have to meet their academic offer conditions by that time, meaning exam boards will have less than four weeks to deal with potentially thousands of appeals from schools and colleges.

A survey of sixth form college principals by the Sixth Form Colleges Association suggested that the process for deciding A level grades is flawed and schools are calling for predicted marks by teachers is the way to address the failures.

Mr Williamson said there are processes in place for appeals but education watchdog Ofqual is thrashing out the final details on how students will be able to challenge results.

He told BBC Breakfast: “Ofqual has got processes in place for appeals, there’s a whole range of routes that schools can take the appeal process through but the mock exam was an important step forward to ensure there’s enhanced fairness for all pupils right across England.”

He added: “Ofqual is going to be issuing clarity as to how this is to be done, making sure that valid mock exams can form the basis of that appeal so that that child can be awarded that grade from that mock exam.”

To add further to the chaos and confusion, Ofqual cancelled a press conference this morning – but then announce it was back on after Mr Williamson was taken to task about the failure to get systems in place.

 Ministers have urged universities to be flexible and take into account the difficult circumstances school leavers had to grapple with while finishing off their A-levels.

But some universities are concerned that students may not even have enough time to get a final grade ahead of the start of the university term in autumn.

The University of the West England (UWE) in Bristol said that delays would cause “uncertainty around final student numbers”.

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