Gavin Williamson: I trust teachers - so should parents

Exclusive: Education secretary Gavin Williamson writes for Tes, expressing trust in teachers to deliver the right grades this summer
26th March 2021, 6:05pm

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Gavin Williamson: I trust teachers - so should parents

https://www.tes.com/magazine/news/general/gavin-williamson-i-trust-teachers-so-should-parents
Gcses & A Levels 2021: I Trust Teachers In Awarding Grades - & Parents Should, Too, Says Education Secretary  Gavin Williamson

After many months of missing our loved ones, millions of us across the country will be looking forward to the easing of restrictions on Monday, allowing us to see others outdoors in groups of up to six. 

As we cautiously move forward following the roadmap, and thanks to our successful vaccination programme, people are beginning to hope for a brighter future.  

This is especially true for our young people studying for GCSEs, A levels and other qualifications this summer, who, like in any year, will feel excited but understandably nervous. 

GCSEs and A levels 2021: ‘Not fair’ to set exams this year   

We have always been clear that exams are the fairest way to assess students’ achievements, but we decided that it was not fair for exams to go ahead as planned due to the impact of the pandemic.

Instead, students will receive grades determined by their teachers - who know their abilities best - based on a range of evidence, such as mock exams, coursework and optional questions.

We trust teachers to know what evidence to use and trust their judgement on grades. The guidance published by the Joint Council for Qualifications this week will support them in this while maximising consistency and fairness for students across the country.

Parents must back teachers, too 

I want parents of students who would have been sitting exams to have that same trust in our teachers, and I know many will.  

Having spoken to many teachers myself as we’ve been developing these arrangements, parents can be confident that their children will receive grades based on their knowledge and understanding of what they have been taught.

No teacher, parent, university or employer wants students to be launched into a course, apprenticeship or job that isn’t right for them. And no student would ever look back and thank those around them for setting them on a path that wasn’t in their best interests.  

Results will have integrity 

Teachers have pride in their profession and will want to make fair assessments, but it’s also important to remember that there will be quality assurance to support those judgements.

There will be a number of checks in place to preserve the integrity of grades and command public confidence.  

Headteachers and heads of departments will assess the decisions made by teachers themselves, and exam boards will do random sample checks and examine cases where there is cause for concern.  

This has been a really challenging year for children and young people, but I feel hugely optimistic about their future as we recover from the pandemic and build back better opportunity for them. 

I look forward to congratulating students on their results this summer. I wish them the best of luck - and want to thank all teachers and staff for their help in enabling young people to take the next steps towards their futures.

Gavin Williamson is the secretary of state for education

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