A-level and GCSE results in England will now be based on teachers’ assessments of their students, unless the grades produced by the controversial algorithm are higher, regulator Ofqual has announced.
Here’s the latest.
What have Ofqual said?
Ofqual chairman Roger Taylor said in a statement: “We understand this has been a distressing time for students, who were awarded exam results last week for exams they never took.
“The pandemic has created circumstances no one could have ever imagined or wished for.
“We want to now take steps to remove as much stress and uncertainty for young people as possible – and to free up heads and teachers to work towards the important task of getting all schools open in two weeks.
“After reflection, we have decided that the best way to do this is to award grades on the basis of what teachers submitted.
“The switch to centre assessment grades will apply to both AS and A-levels and to the GCSE results which students will receive later this week.
“There was no easy solution to the problem of awarding exam results when no exams have taken place.
“Ofqual was asked by the Secretary of State to develop a system for awarding calculated grades, which maintained standards and ensured that grades were awarded broadly in line with previous years.
“Our goal has always been to protect the trust that the public rightly has in educational qualifications.
“But we recognise that while the approach we adopted attempted to achieve these goals we also appreciate that it has also caused real anguish and damaged public confidence.
“Expecting schools to submit appeals where grades were incorrect placed a burden on teachers when they need to be preparing for the new term and has created uncertainty and anxiety for students. For all of that, we are extremely sorry.
“We have therefore decided that students be awarded their centre assessment for this summer – that is, the grade their school or college estimated was the grade they would most likely have achieved in their exam – or the moderated grade, whichever is higher.
“The path forward we now plan to implement will provide urgent clarity. We are already working with the Department for Education, universities and everyone else affected by this issue.”
What has the Education Secretary said?
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has apologised to students and parents affected by “significant inconsistencies” with the grading process.
Mr Williamson said in a statement: “This has been an extraordinarily difficult year for young people who were unable to take their exams.
“We worked with Ofqual to construct the fairest possible model, but it is clear that the process of allocating grades has resulted in more significant inconsistencies than can be resolved through an appeals process.”
He added: “We now believe it is better to offer young people and parents certainty by moving to teacher assessed grades for both A and AS level and GCSE results.
“I am sorry for the distress this has caused young people and their parents but hope this announcement will now provide the certainty and reassurance they deserve.”
What has the reaction been to the U-turn?
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tweeted: “The Government has had months to sort out exams and has now been forced into a screeching U-turn after days of confusion.
“This is a victory for the thousands of young people who have powerfully made their voices heard this past week.
“However, the Tories’ handling of this situation has been a complete fiasco.
“Incompetence has become this Government’s watchword, whether that is on schools, testing or care homes.
“Boris Johnson’s failure to lead is holding Britain back.”
Conservative MP Simon Hoare tweeted: “What an inarticulate and unconvincing advocate Roger Taylor of @ofqual is. We have been in “unprecedented circumstances “ for MONTHS not since last Thursday.
“They should have foreseen the chaos and anger. What planet does this quango live on?”
Lib Dem leadership candidate and education spokeswoman Layla Moran called for Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to quit or be sacked after the exams fiasco.
She tweeted: “This U-turn is victory for common sense and rightly answers calls from Liberal Democrats and others, but it should never have gotten this far.
“Despite the warnings, the Education Secretary’s botched handling of grade awards has left countless young people stressed and anxious. The Prime Minister must show leadership and personally apologise for his Government’s shambles.
“While it is embarrassing for the Government, it has been excruciating for students. It is clear the Education Secretary is out of his depth. If he doesn’t walk, he must be pushed.
“There is still a long way to go to clean up this mess. Government must provide the clarity young people need, including supporting and resourcing universities to ensure all provisional offers are honoured.
“In addition, ministers must follow the example of the Welsh Education Minister and commit to an independent review of the process – that’s what transparent and accountable leadership looks like.”