Poor kids in England could get A Level & GCSE grades marked DOWN like in Scotland, ex-Ofsted chief warns


POORER kids could get their A Level and GCSE gades marked down like in Scotland, Ofsted’s former chief has warned.

Sir Michael Wilshaw said today he feared that children eagerly expecting their exam results on Thursday may end up being bitterly disappointed.

Exam results day in Scotland was described as a “shambles” last Tuesday after nearly 125,000 predicted grades were downgraded by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA).

Exams chiefs came under fire after large numbers of pupils had their scores marked down.

But the models take into account various factors including data on a school’s historic grades in the same subjects.

So if one year group did particularly well – better than last year’s cohort – they would be unlikely to get the higher grades they may have been predicted.

The system is said to have penalised kids from poorer backgrounds more – as their school marks are more likely to be dragged down.

No exams were sat this summer due to the coronavirus crisis.

A mixture of teachers and computers decided this year’s grades.

Sir Micheal told Sky News today: “I am concerned and I suspect a lot of other people will be very concerned that we don’t see a replication of what happened in Scotland, which has shown a large number of downgrades and a disproportionate number of downgrades of youngsters from poor backgrounds in some of the most disadvantaged schools.

“That must not happen here, and I hope Odqual, the regulators of exam systems in England, are aware of the dangers of that, and are going to be taking remedial steps if that does happen.”

He said “what has happened in Scotland… may happen here in England and Wales”.

“There has been an imbalance in the judgements made between the schools performance and its history of examination performance, and taking into account individual student performance,” he said.

“If there is an imbalance in that and they get that balance wrong then things will go badly wrong.”

Exam board Ofqual should make sure they “drill down” into the results of each school before changing marks.

The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) is being urged by leading headteachers to overhaul the system over concerns a generation of teenagers could lose out if their grades are off.

Dr Martin Stephen, the former High Master of St Paul’s Boys’ School, said the current results system was tantamount to “imposing a life sentence on children, with no effective right of appeal”.

Ian Power, the general secretary of the Headmasters and Headmistresses Conference (HMC), which represents a number of prestigious schools including Eton, Harrow and Winchester, warned that allowing students the right to appeal against their grades this summer was a matter of “natural justice”.

The Department for Education has said pupils will be able to resit the exams if they don’t like the grade they are given later this week.

But they won’t automatically get a right to appeal their marks this time around, which could throw into chaos university applications and moving on to further education.

Today Scotland’s Education boss John Swinney said he was “sorry” for the exams catastrophe.


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