A-levels: Review 2-grade markdowns or U-turn, say heads

NAHT becomes second school leaders’ union to suggest reverting to teacher-assessed grades as a way through the A-level 'fiasco'

William Stewart

A-level results 2020: Should teacher-assessed grades stand?

The largest school leaders' union has suggested the A-level grading "fiasco" could be solved by reviewing the 25,000 results that were two or more grades below the grades submitted by teachers.

Without this, the NAHT school leaders' union says, the "only other option available to government to deal with the situation is to rely solely on their student centre assessed grades".

It is the second of the two heads' unions to moot a Scottish style U-turn with all teacher grades left to stand as an option. The growing support for an English change of tack comes as controversy over the grades calculated using Ofqual's model following the coronavirus cancellation of exams heats up, and confusion over appeals grows.

This morning, the Association of School and College Leaders said: "It is time for ministers to stop the chaos and fall back on teacher-assessed grades rather than prolong this nightmare."


Confusion: A-level 'chaos' deepens as Ofqual suspends appeal rules

A levels: ‘Farcical’ Ofqual has ‘sown confusion’

Trouble ahead: Ofqual’s algorithm issues ‘more severe’ at GCSE level


NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman said a "political Punch and Judy show" had not helped in finding a solution to the grading controversy.

"Just when we thought the situation could not get worse, further confusion and uncertainty has been created by the publishing and then withdrawal of Ofqual guidance on appeals," he said.

Mr Whiteman added: "School leaders and their teams did exactly what was asked of them in submitting centre assessed grades.

"No result should have been adjusted down by more than one grade. Anything other than that places undue weight on a statistical model over teacher professional judgement. Then a robust appeals system could have dealt with anomalies and unfairness.

"This is still something which could happen if government and Ofqual automatically review those 25,000 results which were two or more grades below the grades the centre submitted.

"This would immediately rectify the worst of the injustice and reduce the huge pressures which would be placed on schools and colleges to use the appeals system to do this. This would seem a sensible approach leaving the appeals system open to deal with fewer injustices faster.

"The only other option available to government to deal with the situation is to rely solely on their student centre assessed grades. We can deal with the system impact in subsequent years.

"The government needs to get a grip and take rapid and decisive action to restore confidence, fairness and stability both for young people that received their A-levels grades last week but also those receiving their GCSEs in the days to come."

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William Stewart

William Stewart

William Stewart is News editor at Tes

Find me on Twitter @wstewarttes

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