Last-minute change for exam results in England - this is what will happen

The Government has defended its ‘robust’ system for awarding A level and GCSE results in England following an 11th-hour change just days before grades will be handed out.
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Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced late on Tuesday, August 11 that students will be able to use their results in mock tests to appeal if they are unhappy with the grades they are given.

Students across the country have been assured of a so-called ‘triple lock’ approach, which will allow them to pick their best result.

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This will mean a choice between a calculated grade, an appeal to receive valid mock results, or choice to sit their exams when schools resume properly in the autumn.

Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson. Picture: PA.Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson. Picture: PA.
Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson. Picture: PA.

All three grades will hold the same value with universities, colleges and employers, the Department for Education (DfE) said.

The move comes in the wake of a dramatic U-turn by the Scottish Government, which saw moderated grades scrapped after more than 124,000 results were downgraded.

Instead, those lowered results would revert to the grades estimated by pupils’ teachers.

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Nick Gibb, the schools minister for England, acknowledged that the Government was ‘concerned’ about what had happened in Scotland but insisted the system in England remains ‘robust’.

He said that only a ‘small number’ of students would be affected by the change and insisted that ministers have nothing to apologise for by acting so late in the day.

“There is no confusion. We have been very clear from the very beginning. We had to have a system in place to award qualifications to young people given that we had cancelled the exams,” he told BBC Breakfast on Wednesday, August 12.

“We apologise to nobody for finding solutions, even at the 11th hour, to stop any student being disadvantaged by this system.”

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The move was condemned as ‘panicked and chaotic’ by a union leader representing school heads, who warned that it would lead to ‘massive inconsistency’ in the way grades were awarded.

Following the cancellation of this year’s summer exams, teachers were told to submit the grades they thought each student would have received if they had sat the papers.

Exam boards have moderated these grades to ensure that this year’s results – for students in England, Northern Ireland and Wales – are not significantly higher than in previous years.

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Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “The idea of introducing at the 11th hour a system in which mock exam results trump calculated grades beggars belief.

Schools and colleges have spent months diligently following detailed guidance to produce centre-assessed grades, only to find they might as well not have bothered.

“If the Government wanted to change the system it should have spent at least a few days discussing the options rather than rushing out a panicked and chaotic response.”

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