GCSEs 2021: Teacher-assessed grades unfair, say parents

But two-thirds of parents think teachers should get a pay rise next year, a Mumsnet poll shows

Catherine Lough

GCSEs and A levels 2021: Teacher-assessed grades unfair, say most parents

More than half of parents believe that teacher-assessed grades for this year's GCSEs and A levels are going to be unfair, a new poll suggests.

In a poll by the parenting website Mumsnet, around half (54 per cent) of parents surveyed said that awarding teacher-assessed grades is not a fair process.


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However, more than two thirds – 68 per cent – of parents said that teachers should get a pay rise next year, while 76 per cent said they were happy with how their child's school had handled lockdowns.

The survey of more than 1,100 parents with school-aged children also reveals that more than two in five (41 per cent) would give education secretary Gavin Williamson a U grade, and a further fifth (20 per cent) would give him an E to G grade for his recent performance.

GCSEs and A levels 2021: Parents concerned about teacher-assessed grades

Only 1 per cent of parents gave Mr Williamson an A or higher when they were asked to grade his performance.

The findings come as most schools prepare to break up for the summer holidays next week after a tumultuous year.

In the poll, a quarter of parents said they thought there could have been a better solution to make the grading system fairer.

And nearly three in four (73 per cent) of parents believed the grading process in summer 2020 – when grades were awarded by an algorithm before the government U-turned – was unfair.

Only 7 per cent of parents were happy with how the government handled the assessment of GCSEs, A levels and other qualifications last summer.

Meanwhile, 52 per cent of respondents said that “out of control behaviour” and “children being slow to readjust to the classroom” had not been a problem in their school.

Looking ahead to the next school year, 79 per cent of parents said they were worried about continued disruption to education and 46 per cent were worried about Covid-19 continuing to spread in schools.

Last month, an exclusive Tes survey revealed that nearly seven in 10 teachers believed that this year's grading process for GCSEs and A levels would not give all students the grades they deserved.

School leaders have urged parents to have confidence in this year's exam grading process.

Nick Brook, deputy general secretary of the NAHT school leaders’ union, said: “Students and their families have every reason to be confident in this year’s results, even though there have been no exams.

"The results are based on students’ actual work, which has been assessed by the people who know them best – their teachers.

"The grades have been moderated and quality assured. There are no algorithms this year, just human effort and human expert judgement.”

Justine Roberts, founder of Mumsnet, said: “Many parents found homeschooling during lockdown a monumental struggle, but it seems clear most blame the government, not schools.

“In particular, they believe Gavin Williamson’s performance requires significant improvement.”

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said: “This feedback from parents is a ringing endorsement of the superb performance of schools during the pandemic and will be music to the ears of teachers and leaders after a torrid term in which Covid is once again wreaking havoc on attendance.

“It is also patently clear that the government must raise its game and provide more support to schools and colleges instead of constantly leaving them in the lurch.

“A good start would be a much more substantial education recovery package than the meagre offering that the government has so far managed to come up with.”

 

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author bio

Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

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