Ministers intervene in exam grade appeals

Overnight we have news that Ministers have reviewed the actions of teachers, Examining Boards and the independent regulator. They have decided that a good ground for appeal can be the mock exam results where these were achieved in properly controlled conditions. This means an individual will have a way of upping their grade where a combination of teacher assessment and Examining Board moderation has delivered a lower grade than the mock exam result.

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40 Comments

  1. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted August 12, 2020 at 6:30 am | Permalink

    Your government has again caved in to poor publicity, it is not a retailer.

    Make a decision and stick to it please.

    • Peter
      Posted August 12, 2020 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

      I am not sure why government ministers are involved in exam appeals.

      Sounds like micro managing of the worst kind – the sort of thing Theresa May would have done.

      Haven’t they got bigger fish to fry? A genuine Brexit and the illegal migrant issue spring to mind.

  2. Sea Warrior
    Posted August 12, 2020 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    The right decision – but one wonders why it wasn’t found a couple of months ago. Was policy made, on the hoof, by some Spad or, more properly, by Gavin Williamson’s civil servants, using established process?
    Bigger questions:
    (1) Why do we have multiple examining boards in this country – one of which, it seems, drums up business by making their exams easier than the others?
    (2) Why don’t we have a single examining board, owned by the government?

  3. rose
    Posted August 12, 2020 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    I was horrified when I originally heard that teachers were going to be allowed to determine exam results. Once given this wrong power they weren’t going to give it up for an algorithm and the ensuing row was inevitable. Given we are where we are, the government has dealt with it a lot better than the Scottish National Socialists, and the left are furious, so another row about the remedy is inevitable.

  4. Nigl
    Posted August 12, 2020 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    And why would presumably an able and experienced moderator and the teachers deliver a lower result. Why weren’t the mock results put into the mix up front, indeed didn’t they form part of the teachers assessment. And how many appeals can the system cope with. More information would help.

    Seems like a political cop out. Talking of that I was disappointed in your comments about BA, a typically left wing smear blaming shareholders (a.k.a the rich) relying on people’s ignorance. I am a shareholder indirectly via my pension. You want me to take less and subsidise workers for whom, alas, their is no work, partly because of HMGs inaction. Incidentally no praise for the £2.5 billion put in by a foreign stakeholder.

    Once again always someone else’s fault. On this one sir, unbecoming of you.

  5. Ian @Barkham
    Posted August 12, 2020 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Good mornings Sir John, isn’t that close to being sensible.

    With the benefit of hindsight, just re sitting them could also be the answer. Without a sensible and realistic approach Employers will ignore any claims of results in 2020. They will zero in on candidates from years that were made to matter.

    A pity those pupils in Scotland, being awarded a Socialist everyone is equal diploma makes them un employable for anything but the basic job

  6. Sam Vara
    Posted August 12, 2020 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    A way of “Upping the grade”. That’s interesting. It sounds fair, until one reflects that there are just as likely to be students who in a normal year would have done better in their mocks than their real final exams.

    If sufficient numbers fail to go to University, they will be registered as unemployed and – far worse – so will some of the lecturers in our bloated H E. system. This is all about preventing that from happening.

  7. Lifelogic
    Posted August 12, 2020 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    That does not really work very well as mocks are set by the schools with no standardisation. Some schools mark harshly so as not to encourage complacency (or set quite hard challenging exams) other do not. Sometimes mock cover subject their set have not even covered yet.

    As I say the best gauge by far for most pupils are GCSE results in similar subjects – at least these are standardised and taken under exam conditions.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 12, 2020 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      Plus mocks at taken at different times by different schools and at my daughters school some children guessed what paper would be set and did it in advance! GCSE are by far the best indication.

    • Longus
      Posted August 12, 2020 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      Exam difficulty should not be a factor in grading pupils as a set proportion are allocated particular grades each year. An easy exam would not distinguish best students from worse.

  8. Lifelogic
    Posted August 12, 2020 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    Doubtless the government will cave as the National Socialist Party of Scotland for political reason in a few days time and give people devalued grades for short term political popularity, but few will be fooled. Thus giving universities rather a problem as many will be rather over subscribed.

    Already the median entry to universities is something dire like 3Ds I understand so half are even worse than that.

  9. Nigl
    Posted August 12, 2020 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    And now we see the backlash. Mock exams not standardised, some pupils not taking them. Pupils ‘allowed’ to chose their results.

    Looks like government panic as Gavin Williamson ‘strikes again’.

  10. formula57
    Posted August 12, 2020 at 8:26 am | Permalink

    What a lost opportunity to give everyone the top grade to show that they are all winners.

    • czerwonadupa
      Posted August 12, 2020 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

      We are in an age when everyone must win prizes as those classed as losers (sorry non winners) would be scared for life

  11. DOMINIC
    Posted August 12, 2020 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Or a more accurate title for this nonsense would be ‘Tory Ministers capitulate to Marxist teaching unions for an easy life and to eliminate negative press headlines in the leftist media’

    Dumbing down to insulate the Tory party from criticism

    It’s the same old tactic across the political board. Is there no issue you won’t give way on to the Marxist hordes to insulate yourselves from criticism?

    Please, do us all a favour and change your party’s name to something more accurate so that at the next GE the voter can see what you’ve really morphed into

    Maintaining the Conservative Party moniker is now an act of electoral deceit

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted August 13, 2020 at 6:46 am | Permalink

      You have to accept that socially valuable people – such as teachers – will always have a degree of power if they act together.

      That is a Very Good Thing.

      It appears that you would rather that such classes of person were treated in the same way as the Khmer Rouge once did to them.

      Plasterers and bricklayers could be a force with which to reckon, if only they would organise too.

      • Edward2
        Posted August 13, 2020 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

        Depends if they use that power for the general good.

        My view is that teachers can refuse to return to work in September but they should then not be paid.

      • Fred H
        Posted August 13, 2020 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

        ‘Plasterers and bricklayers could be a force with which to reckon, if only they would organise too.’

        The quickest way to stop building all those homes! Wonderful.
        Martin – you have solved the housebuilding crisis.

  12. Mockbeggar
    Posted August 12, 2020 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    In an interesting comment by Anthony Seldon on the Today programme this morning, he contends that this year’s “A” level pupils are the luckiest ever. Whatever results they are given, the universities are so desperate for new students that all pupils will get to the university of their choice. So even if they feel they’ve been marked down, it doesn’t matter. Once they graduate, no employer will care two hoots what their “A” level grades were; (not that they ever did actually).

    • Alan Jutson
      Posted August 13, 2020 at 7:36 am | Permalink

      Mockbeggar

      Tend to agree, to have the offer of the best out of three should be a real one off bonus for many in unusual times, cannot understand why any pupil would want to argue against it.

      The real worry is that it may not be a one off, and many students may find that university life is not for them, unless degrees are down graded as well !!!!

      Time will tell.

  13. Ross Towes
    Posted August 12, 2020 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    One suspects that more thought went into the impressive sounding, pension-echoing ‘triple lock’ description than into the policy itself. Schools have wildly different approaches to mock exams (as of course do students), so some schools’ mock results will be considered valid to use in appeals, others will not. How is that fair to all students, some of whom may by consequence have fewer avenues of appeal than others? The principle of trying to do the greatest good for the greatest number possible is admirable, but the inconsistency this causes in this example will rightly catch a lot of flak.

  14. Peter Cousins
    Posted August 12, 2020 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    It is becoming just choose your own grade – which might be more satisfactory anyway! University’s are missing overseas intake this year and are accepting just about anyone so no one should need worry too much about what grade they get and this year’s bare results will always be tainted whatever resolution is found.

  15. Caterpillar
    Posted August 12, 2020 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    This is signalling of incompetence all around. Throughout the process it was indicated that the decisions would be robust, all such data being taken into account in schools’ estimates of grades prior to Ofqual statistical adjustment. The ‘whinging’ was predictable from the start, but the response of legitimate statistical techniques or to sit a later paper, was reasonable – indeed decisions being above teachers gave them some protection from disgruntled students, throwing it back to in school assessments will be throwing some teachers and schools under the bus. Sadly this last gasp, knee jerk reaction has put the Secretary of State for Education in the same camp as other incompetent ministers.

    1. Perhaps setting a precedent for students to be able to take their mock grade instead of an actual grade is a little slippery. (Will students from previous years who had good mocks but did not achieve in final examinations receive compensation of some form?Triple locking grades may become another step to lowering quality)

    2. Schools should have to prove the historic relationship between mock grades given and final exams. Surely most schools have the data to do this?

    3. I would suggest that an individual audit trail is maintained by a qualifying statement of the grade awarded being recorded 0n each student’s certificate e.g.

    Grade xxx (No exam. taken due to CV19, no appeal, grade higher than mock) etc.

    Those who later in life do not like their qualifiers can then sit actual examinations.

    • Narrow Shoulders
      Posted August 12, 2020 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

      Re 2 – I was assured that my daughter’s school was taking this approach and was very happy with it.

  16. Elli Ron
    Posted August 12, 2020 at 9:37 am | Permalink

    The fairest way was the use of algorithm which takes in both teacher recommendation (obviously biased up) and the school Gaussian for past performance.
    When used across the board, this gives the approximate best result AND the actual numbers are not really important only the relative values to other people.
    If the assessment uses the same criteria, no one gets an advantage in admission to uni.
    There are two obvious exceptions:
    * Outstanding students in low achieving schools
    * Students which will defer studies and will need the results at later years.
    The first is easy to solve, the student must sit the exam.
    The second is resolvable via later adjustments.
    The assessment of results method doesn’t really matter as long as it is the same all over the country.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted August 13, 2020 at 4:52 am | Permalink

      Indeed all sensible and obvious stuff, but politicians just want to try to buy votes so sense goes out of the window.

  17. Martin in Cardiff
    Posted August 12, 2020 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    That’s about right for Tory government.

    The Ministers can make a rule – that doesn’t involve much work, unlike solving the material problems caused by their brexit or mounting an effective programme to suppress covid19 to levels low enough to allow life to return to something like normal, as a growing list of countries are doing.

    They are in office to hold power, but not to do work, as they demonstrate at every turn.

    • David Brown
      Posted August 12, 2020 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

      +1

  18. Bob Dixon
    Posted August 12, 2020 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    This just makes matters worse. One of the benefits of mocks can be a kick up the backside.
    The student then knows where to concentrate their revision.

    Come on Boris.Get a grip on this and lock downs.

  19. Everhopeful
    Posted August 12, 2020 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Good grief and then some more!
    So mock exams have actually been taken?
    So what’s the problem? They have their grades!
    OR since we are all being reset why not just run the entire year again for every pupil?
    Why not?
    All has been upended and turned inside out.
    What’s a year in the scheme of the great replacement and the great reset?
    Year Zero can be achieved!

  20. Mark B
    Posted August 12, 2020 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    Good afternoon.

    Whilst I am happy that those affected by the government’s decision to blight peoples lives may get some justice, I and many here were under the impression that the government and Ministers did not want, or could, get involved.

    More U-Turns than a French Army.

  21. agricola
    Posted August 12, 2020 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    As I have said earlier, you have manufactured a problem for yourselves by not thinking it through.

    Schools were empty. Only 20% of pupils were involved. Teachers had nothing to do. Exams could have been undertaken.

    Total cockup and wrangling for months to come.

    • Caterpillar
      Posted August 12, 2020 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

      +1

    • a-tracy
      Posted August 13, 2020 at 8:07 am | Permalink

      I agree Agricola, students usually finish school before the Easter break for self-revision and exam preparation, most of the exam content is delivered before then. It would have been the same test circumstances for all, the students could have been spaced out and walked in and out in a safe way.

    • dixie
      Posted August 14, 2020 at 6:14 am | Permalink

      Not just schools, libraries and leisure centres have been empty, there has been no lack of space for socially distant exam provision.

      But is this a central or local government issue.

  22. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted August 12, 2020 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    Why delegate responsibility to exam boards and then override them?

    Government can not invade every area of life just because social media makes a disproportionate noise- back off.

  23. Fred H
    Posted August 12, 2020 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    the only acceptable way was to have prepared stats for each subject at each school.
    Say for the last 4 or 5 years when most teachers would be much the same, make comparisons between Mock and Actual result. What was the trend – gain a grade / lose a grade? Similarly out of each year’s cohort how many of each grade were awarded per subject.
    When teachers predict the grade an independent review should be done to compare this to past outcomes.
    Suddenly when rather a lot of high grades are predicted, one can smell a rat!

    • Alan Jutson
      Posted August 13, 2020 at 7:38 am | Permalink

      +1

  24. Posted August 12, 2020 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

    There is no Tory party and that has been the case for many years.
    What we have now might aswell be the Liberal party.
    Any body remember Clegg, a right hand man to a pretend PM.

    No what we have now, is One Party politics in the U.K.
    that is what is called Totaterien rule.
    Democricy does not reside here any more.
    The Three Party system, is now no longer . the Two party system Is no longer.
    They have all joined hands.
    Now does that make it easer to see why there is No Tory Party as we might have known it ?
    This is why this is possibly the worst Government ever, why every thing seems to be chaos ?
    Why Boris will never take us out of the EU by WTO.
    Once you realise Boris and his chums are all raving Remainers, hence no boarder control etc

  25. Sea Warrior
    Posted August 12, 2020 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    I’ll be shorting Gavin Williamson stock.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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