Top private schools back teacher grades U-turn

Eton had complained of 'unfair' grade moderation as HMC called for algorithm to be ditched for A-level and GCSE results

Catherine Lough

GCSE and A-level results: Eton College supported the U-turn over teacher-predicted grades

Leading independent schools called earlier today for teacher-assessed grades to be awarded for GCSEs and A levels.

Following growing concern over Ofqual's standardisation process, which resulted in many students seeing their results severely downgraded, an association representing the country's elite private schools said that using teacher-assessed grading would save students from receiving "unfair grades".


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This afternoon, the exams regulator Ofqual followed Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales in deciding to use teacher-assessed grades for GCSEs and A levels in England after all this year.

Simon Hyde, the incoming general secretary of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference, said earlier: “The only way now to stop this intolerable strain on students and teachers is to award the teacher assessment grades or CAGs [centre-assessed grades].

GCSE and A-level results: 'Intolerable strain'

“Whilst we accept that the unavoidable outcome is grade inflation, we believe this is the less bad option when tens of thousands of students are facing unfair grades, thousands of schools are facing an as yet undeveloped appeals process and most of us need to concentrate our energy on supporting the prime minister’s desire to reopen our schools in a few weeks' time.

“It also allows GCSE grades to be published as planned; the last thing anyone needs is more delay and confusion.”

Lord Baker, a former Conservative education secretary, said yesterday that the publication of GCSE results should be postponed until the A-level appeals process was resolved.

Eton College, the prime minister's alma mater, had called on both Ofqual and the Department for Education, asking that the "whole grading system be urgently reviewed" and that "as an immediate practical step, we wish to see the appeals process amended so as to make it more comprehensive, more accessible and quicker".

In a letter to parents, Simon Henderson, Eton's head master, said that a number of pupils had seen their teacher-assessed grades downgraded by the standardising process, sometimes by more than one grade, "and in a way which on many occasions we feel is manifestly unfair".

Mr Henderson said that in one subject, it was the first year students at the school had studied a particular syllabus, and so there was no direct historical data on prior performance.

"Rather than accept our CAGs [centre-assessed grades]  and/or consider alternative historic data in the previous syllabus we had been following (from the same examination board), the board chose instead to take the global spread of results for 2019 and apply that to our cohort," he wrote.

"This failed to take any account of the fact Eton is an academically selective school with a much narrower ability range than the global spread. The results awarded to many boys in this subject bore no relation at all to their CAGs or to their ability. Several have lost university places as a result."

 

 

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author bio

Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

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