Labour calls for exam safeguards ahead of A-Level and GCSE results

Boris Johnson has been warned he risks “robbing a generation of young people of their future” unless unfairness in the exams system is addressed.

Concerns have been raised by Labour ahead of a visit to Yorkshire today that A-level and GCSE results could be downgraded for thousands of pupils in England because of the replacement grading system introduced post-lockdown.

Last month, exam regulator Ofqual confirmed that standardisation would draw on the historical outcomes of each school or college.

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And yesterday Scotland’s Education Secretary John Swinney announced the 124,564 exam results downgraded by a controversial moderation process in Scotland will revert to the grades estimated by pupils’ teachers.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer. Photo: PA

Labour has now urged the UK Government to carry out urgent changes to make the exams system fairer ahead of A-Level results being released tomorrow.

The party’s proposals include helping students to correct their grades, with credible appeals and resits, as well as urgently clarifying which students are likely to be worst affected by the model being used. It also says the Government should mandate greater flexibility in admissions decisions this year and ensure that no GCSE student will be moderated down to below a Grade 4 in English or maths.

Labour party leader Sir Keir Starmer said it was a “blatant injustice” that young people were having their futures decided by their postcode.

“Pupils and parents are rightly worried that years of hard work are about to be undone because a computer has decided to mark their child down,” said the Labour leader.

“For too long, the Tories have considered the needs of young people as an afterthought when their needs should have been central.

“It’s a blatant injustice that thousands of hard-working young people risk having their futures decided on the basis of their postcode.

“Unless Boris Johnson acts, he risks robbing a generation of young people of their future.”

In a sign the Government is braced for a similar backlash to that seen in Scotland, universities have been urged to hold places for students challenging their A-level grades until they receive the outcome of the appeal.

Universities Minister Michelle Donelan called on institutions to be “flexible” and take into account a range of evidence when choosing which students to admit.

On Monday, Mr Johnson said he understood there was “anxiety” about grades.

The Prime Minister added that he was “very, very keen” that GCSE and A-level exams should go ahead as normal in the coming academic year.

Students awaiting their A-level results in Wales will not be failed in the same way as their Scottish counterparts, the Welsh Government has insisted.

Minister Julie James said Wales used different modelling to Scotland and that nearly half of pupils’ final mark was based on AS-levels completed last year.

During a Welsh Government briefing, Ms James, minister for housing and local government, said she was confident pupils’ grades would be “robust” due to the system used by exam board WJEC and exam regulator Qualifications Wales.

“I’m really happy to reassure every learner in Wales that the modelling in Wales is very different,” she said.