Our MPs talk on A-level grading during this coronavirus year

North East Hertfordshire MP Sir Oliver Heald and South Cambridgeshire MP Anthony Browne. Picture: Of

North East Hertfordshire MP Sir Oliver Heald and South Cambridgeshire MP Anthony Browne. Picture: Office of Sir Oliver Heald/Stephen Frost - Credit: Archant

There was a mixed response from our MPs as the government first refused but then agreed to back down over the way A-level results were handled.

The government and Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation – Ofqual – announced on Monday that they would drop the system of determining A-levels and GCSE results using an algorithm and instead use teacher assessments – while retaining the algorithm grades where they produced a higher result.

South Cambs MP Anthony Browne MP welcomed the government’s U-turn despite strongly opposing using teacher assessments in the previous days – saying it would be a “simplistic solution that doesn’t bear close scrutiny”.One political opponent put it that Mr Browne had been “pretty unequivocal” in his opposition against teacher-assessed grades.

Mr Browne blamed “the significant change in circumstances over a weekend where Ofqual’s continued prevarications have caused anguish for students, parents and teachers. The withdrawal of guidance on appeals within hours of it being issued was unacceptable and caused genuine chaos,” he added.

“An effective system of appeal would have been able to deal with the understandable grievances that students and schools have communicated to me over the last few days.

“It is clear that such a system is not now possible, particularly given the looming deadline for university applications. In light of this, as I made the views of my constituents and local teachers known to government and ministers, I have pushed for robust action and very much welcome their new approach, listening and taking all the feedback on board.”

North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald said: “Given the problems with the algorithm of Ofqual, I am delighted that common sense has prevailed and that the government will now be using teachers assessments this year to replace public examinations.

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“Although teachers’ assessments alone can lead to grade inflation, it seems that the Ofqual algorithm is a blunt instrument and has adversely affected schools and colleges with large sixth forms.

“This saga also demonstrates the importance of holding public exams and how hard it is to devise a system anywhere near as good.”