England 'will not follow' Scotland's exam grades U-turn

Government will stand by Ofqual's changes to teacher assessed A level and GCSE grades, sources say

Amy Gibbons

Exam hall

The government will not follow Scotland's lead and withdraw changes to teacher-assessed A-level and GCSE grades, Tes understands.

Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU teaching union, said this afternoon that the Scottish government's decision to scrap moderated grades that would have left students with poorer exam results will place huge pressure on Gavin Williamson to do the same.

But Tes understands that the government sees Ofqual as having followed different processes to the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), so the Department for Education will stick by its current position.

NEU: Scots grade U-turn places ‘huge pressure’ on Williamson

SQA results: All downgraded results to be withdrawn

Exclusive: Ofqual dodges poorer pupils grades question

The government is also understood to have heard reassurances from Ofqual that in England's  downgrading of results, the vast majority of students will see outcomes either as expected, or moved by one grade – and that there will be little impact on the attainment gap.

Another key difference in England, sources point out, is that pupils would have the opportunity to sit exams in the autumn.

Therefore the government's belief remains that the current system is the fairest possible option in the circumstances.

Sources say they can think of no situation over the coming weeks that would influence the government to change its position.

Scotland's decision to reinstate teachers' calculated grades was in response to the mounting pressure over the fairness of the system that replaced the exams, which were cancelled this year owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

Scottish education secretary John Swinney has said that where moderation led to an increased grade, "learners will not lose that award" but "all downgraded awards will be withdrawn".

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Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @tweetsbyames

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