A-level students allowed to use mock exam grades amid results u-turn

A-level students will be able to use mock exam results instead of their predicted grades. Picture: G

A-level students will be able to use mock exam results instead of their predicted grades. Picture: Getty Images/Wavebreak Media - Credit: Getty Images/Wavebreak Media

A-level students in Suffolk will be able to use mock exam results to progress to university, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has announced.

The last-minute change was revealed yesterday amid concerns that marks decided by teachers for thousands of students may be downgraded when moderated by exam boards in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Ministers have reassured those concerned that the new system is “robust” and will provide the fairest results.

However, former Suffolk head teacher and union boss Geoff Barton said the new method would leave room for “massive inconsistencies” as mock exams were not standardised and some students may not have taken them before schools closed in March.

Following the cancellation of exams due to Covid-19, teachers were asked to submit predicted grades for all students who were due to take exams this summer.

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A-level and GCSE students will still receive these results as planned on Thursday.

However, if they are lower than their mock results, students can now appeal their grades and receive the marks they achieved in their practise exams.

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Regulator Ofqual will be asked to determine how and when valid mock results can be used.

Mr Williamson said: “Every young person waiting for their results wants to know they have been treated fairly.

“By ensuring students have the safety net of their mock results, as well as the chance of sitting autumn exams, we are creating a triple lock process to ensure they can have the confidence to take the next step forward in work or education.”

However the decision has been criticised by some who say the response has been “panicked and chaotic”.

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

“The government doesn’t appear to understand how mock exams work.

They aren’t a set of exams which all conform to the same standards. The clue is in the name ‘mock’.”

The former headteacher at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds, added: “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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