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Education Secretary Gavin Williamson tries to shift blame to ‘not fit for purpose’ Ofqual after exam grades U-turn

UNDER-fire Gavin Williamson batted away calls to quit today and shifted the blame for the A-level marking disaster toward exams bosses at Ofqual.

The Education Secretary refused three times to say he would walk and instead took aim at the bungling watchdog.

And the boss of the Commons Education Select Committee also blasted the “secretive” grading body over its refusal to explain its botched computer model, which sparked results chaos.

MP Robert Halfon said the powerful quango was “not fit for purpose”.

A livid Mr Williamson, 44, hit out saying: “We ended up in a situation where Ofqual didn’t deliver the system that we had been reassured and believed would be in place.

“It is quite clear that there have been some real challenges in terms of what Ofqual have been able to deliver.”

The row over A-levels has also reignited ministers’ fury at the lack of civil servants and officials returning to their desks.

Last week The Sun revealed just one in 20 officials had stopped working from home.

One senior government figure conceded: “It’s clear Whitehall is not firing on all cylinders.”

Mr Williamson signalled he is not going to budge from the Cabinet — insisting he is determined “over the coming year” to reform education.

He did a dramatic U-turn on the A-level marking system after a computer algorithm lowered around 40 per cent of grades from teachers’ forecasts.

Tens of thousands of teenagers had been left devastated after their predicted Bs and Cs were downgraded to Ds and Es.

The results sparked nationwide student protests — some of which continued today despite the U-turn.

Ofqual — run by £200,000 a year boss Sally Collier — has refused to send anyone out to face the music since the marking fiasco.

Mr Halfon said today that the quango should be axed.

The Tory MP told Times Radio: “I don’t want our committee to become a show trial.

“But what I do want to do is find out what on earth has gone wrong, why it happened, who said what to whom, were the right questions asked, were tests done on this so-called algorithm model.

“And the reason I want to find these things out is not just to finger wag and blame, but to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Tonight unions called for an inquiry into the fiasco. The Association of School and College Leaders wrote to Mr Williamson demanding an independent review.

Boss Geoff Barton said: “This degree of transparency is necessary at a time when public confidence has been badly shaken.”

Some Tory MPs accused Mr Williamson of trying to palm off the blame to Ofqual.

One told The Sun: “He is not a resigner. You would have to chop off his hand to get him to resign.”

Another said “vultures are circling” but Mr Williamson is a “master of finding someone else to chuck under a bus”.

But MPs said Prime Minister Boris Johnson would not sack the Education Secretary.

However, questions remained for Mr Williamson after it emerged he had been warned as early as June that the system would fail.

Williamson is not a resigner. You would have to chop off his hand to get him to resign.

A report by the Education Select Committee said the computerised marking was a recipe for disaster.

It said downgrading marks to match how the school did in previous years “might not be fair” for “schools on an upward trajectory”.

Ministers and Ofqual bosses refused to ditch the system.

One Conservative politician said Ofqual and Mr Williamson were both “villains” who must carry the can.

Labour MP Toby Perkins said: “The mess and chaos surrounding exam results is a result of the Government’s incompetence and they must take responsibility for it.”

The disaster piles even more pressure on the Government to get all kids back to school for the start of September.

Pupils getting GCSEs tomorrow will be given their teacher grades for results.

But officials say they will not know national GCSE figures until a week later as they will still be crunching the numbers.

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