UCU: More contextual data should be used for grades

UCU says that disadvantaged students could miss out under Ofqual's confirmed plans for awarding qualifications

Kate Parker

UCU: More contextual data should be used for grades

Colleges should make greater use of their contextual data to ensure that disadvantaged students are not disproportionately affected by Ofqual's plans on how qualifications should be awarded this summer, the University and College Union (UCU) has said. 

Today, the exams regulator confirmed its framework for awarding vocational and technical qualifications following the cancellation of the summer exam diet. According to the plans, students on many qualifications will receive results calculated by their teachers. 

But UCU has warned that disadvantaged students could miss out under these plans.

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The union highlights research showing that high-achieving students from low income and low socioeconomic backgrounds and those with protected characteristics are more likely to have their grades under-predicted than their wealthier contemporaries.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: "Our primary concern with changes to this year’s exams was the negative impact on disadvantaged students, and these plans still do not fully address that issue. Research has shown that disadvantaged students fare badly when it comes to predicted grades, are less likely to be able to delay sitting exams and worst-equipped to navigate any appeals system.

"We are disappointed that more has not been done to recognise the impact that these changes will have on disadvantaged students. Without action, these groups are likely to be even more underrepresented.

"We urge colleges and universities to make greater use of contextual data so students progress according to their achievements and, crucially, their potential, rather than their background."

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Kate Parker

Kate Parker is a FE reporter.

Find me on Twitter @KateeParker

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