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Labour warns that GCSE and A Level grade standardisation will ‘rob’ young people of their future

YOUNG people will be “robbed” of their future unless Prime Minister Boris Johnson urgently tackles “unfairness” in the unprecedented school assessment system introduced as a result of the coronavirus lockdown, Labour warning today. 

A-level students receive their results tomorrow and GCSE pupils will get theirs next Thursday.

Labour’s warning comes amid serious concern that thousands of pupils in England could have their grades lowered in a standardisation process that was introduced after all exams were cancelled.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer will meet parents and teachers in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, today. 

He has called on the PM to urgently introduce changes to the system, such as setting up a “credible” appeals and resits process for those whose grades have been “unfairly downgraded” due to standardisation. 

Mr Starmer is also calling on the government to “mandate greater flexibility in admissions” to higher education institutions for students who miss out on the normally required grades due to standardisation.

GCSE students should also not be downgraded below Grade 4 (equivalent to Grade C) in English and maths, as falling below that level has “significant consequences for the life chances of young people,” Labour said. 

Mr Starmer said: “Pupils and parents are rightly worried that years of hard work are about to be undone because a computer has decided to mark their child down.

“For too long, the Tories have considered the needs of young people as an afterthought when their needs should have been central. 

“It’s a blatant injustice that thousands of hard-working young people risk having their futures decided on the basis of their postcode. 

“Unless Boris Johnson acts, he risks robbing a generation of young people of their future.”

Exam regulator Ofqual confirmed in April that “standardisation will draw on the historical outcomes of a centre” when determining students’ grades.

Schools and teachers were required to provide predictions of each pupil’s grade and rank within their class in each subject. These “centre-assessed grades” would then be subject to statistical moderation.

Standardisation uses historic outcomes for each exam centre, students’ prior attainment in the last and previous academic years and the expected national distribution of grades.

A Guardian report last week suggested that as many as 40 per cent of A-level results could be downgraded, a figure privately confirmed by exam officials.


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