The Virus strikes again: The A-Level results fiasco

16 August 2020 — The Good Law Project

Today we have launched legal action against Ofqual over failings in the process for awarding A Level results.

We have received hundreds of emails from devastated students, whose grades have been downgraded and who have lost their university places and job offers, lost funding and scholarships, and completely lost their faith that their Government will help.

Because without an adequate appeal mechanism, there is almost nothing they can do. There is no appeal based on merits, however much they were downgraded by.

And of course this disaster has not been visited on rich and poor alike. The data shows – and clearly – that it is hitting poorer kids above richer, and state school kids more than private. But then, somehow, it always seems to be like that, doesn’t it?

We are working with six young people who have been directly impacted, including:

  • Michael, who was given Centre Assessment Grades of BBB and, following the standardisation process, was awarded EEE. His school has said it is not in a position to appeal and he has missed out on a place at his first choice university;
  • Charlotte, who was given a Centre Assessment Grade of A*AA, and had an offer from a University to study medicine with an offer of AAA. Following the standardisation process, she was awarded ABC. The University has stated it cannot accept her and has deferred her place to 2021 pending resits;

  • Lina, who was given a Centre Assessment Grade of A*A*AA and who had two conditional offers from leading Universities. Following the standardisation process, she was awarded ABBC and has lost her place at her firm choice ‘unless her grades change’; and

  • Chloe, who was given a Centre Assessment Grade of AAB. Following the standardisation process, she was awarded BCD and her degree apprenticeship is now at risk. She has special educational needs which were not diagnosed prior to her taking her GCSEs.

For these students, and the thousands of others who have been impacted, this must not stand.

Today we have written to Ofqual to say just that. Our letter says that Ofqual has a duty to create a scheme that was procedurally fair and it has failed. That there is a systemic problem with the scheme that gives rise to an unacceptable risk of procedural unfairness. And that Ofqual has also breached its obligation to ensure that “regulated qualifications give a reliable indication of knowledge, skills and understanding” and to “promote public confidence in regulated qualifications”. You can read our letter here.

Our claim requires Ofqual to revise the present system, which is unfair and unlawful. Such unfairness might be remedied by creating a merits-based appeal right for those students whose Centre Assessment Grade has been downgraded and resetting the system so that students’ grades can be downgraded by one grade at most.

Because of the huge urgency – even more university places and jobs are at risk if this mess isn’t resolved really soon – we have asked for a reply by 4pm on Wednesday 19 August 2020. If we don’t hear back or Ofqual refuse to remedy the situation, we intend to issue proceedings.

Ofqual – and the Government – seem to be saying to these young people “if you don’t go to a successful school, you don’t deserve to succeed either.” Strip away all the science and that’s what’s delivered by the system they have put in place. It’s not fair. It’s not good enough. And hard working students should not have to stand for it.

Thank you,
Jolyon Maugham
Director

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