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Headteachers call on government to scrap algorithm in favour of predicted GCSE grades

PUBLISHED: 13:53 17 August 2020 | UPDATED: 13:53 17 August 2020

Dave Lee-Allan, headteacher of Stowmarket High School and chairman of Suffolk Association of Secondary Heads Picture: GREGG BROWN

Dave Lee-Allan, headteacher of Stowmarket High School and chairman of Suffolk Association of Secondary Heads Picture: GREGG BROWN

Prominent Suffolk headteachers are urging the government to scrap the ‘blatantly unfair’ algorithm which could severely impact students’ grades ahead of GCSE results day.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson has come under fire after A-level results were decided by an Ofqual algorithm Picture: PAEducation secretary Gavin Williamson has come under fire after A-level results were decided by an Ofqual algorithm Picture: PA

Dave Lee-Allan, headteacher of Stowmarket High School and chairman of the Suffolk Association of Secondary Heads (SASH), has written to education secretary Gavin Williamson on behalf of the organisation as many students’ GCSE results may be downgraded this week.

Thousands of A-level students were left shocked last Thursday after receiving lower-than-expected grades, which have been decided by an algorithm developed by exams regulator Ofqual rather than teachers.

The algorithm has proved controversial after nearly 40% of grades were marked down from teachers’ predictions, with students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds more likely to be affected.

This has prompted SASH and Mr Lee-Allan to attempt to persuade the government to ignore the outcomes of the Ofqual methodology on GCSE results day on Thursday and rely on the predicted grades submitted by teachers, who have worked “extremely hard” to provide accurate results.

SASH has said if predicted grades - known as centre assessed grades - cannot be used, there should be an “immediate” and free appeals process for students to challenge the results.

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In the letter, Mr Lee-Allan said: “The adherence to the Ofqual algorithm has created a blatantly unfair outcome for too many students, particularly those from a disadvantaged background.

“We have all stood with desperately upset students and been unable to explain why the system chose them to be downgraded. It is not acceptable for these students to effectively be asked to ‘take one for the team’.

“The late introduction of ‘mock’ grades as a fall back and the delay in defining a suitable appeals process is adding confusion and enormous tension for young people who have already suffered enough through the Covid pandemic.

“By reverting to the centre assessed grade, there will be parity with other students in the UK and trust can be restored.”

Mr Lee-Allan added: “The algorithm is disproportionately unfair in its impact on key groups of students. Even though it had the best intentions, it has been unfair on many students.

“There’s talk 97% of grades might be changed to meet statistical modelling. This particular process hasn’t worked.”

MORE: Frustrated schools prepare to appeal controversial A-level results


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