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Students face A-level results ‘confusion’ following last-minute changes

PUBLISHED: 06:00 13 August 2020 | UPDATED: 08:47 13 August 2020

Students celebrate their exam results in 2016. Picture: Josh Coles

Students celebrate their exam results in 2016. Picture: Josh Coles

Photo: Josh Coles

Headteachers have hit out at 11th-hour changes to the way A-level grades will be assessed less than 48 hours before students were due to receive their results.

Exams were cancelled following the coronavirus lockdown in March. Picture: David Davies/PA WireExams were cancelled following the coronavirus lockdown in March. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire

Students due to discover their A-level results today are now being promised their final grades will be no lower than their mock exams.

The Department for Education announced the last-minute “triple lock” meaning pupils get results that are the highest from estimated grades, mocks or exams they might choose to take in the autumn.

MORE: Explaining ‘triple lock’ solution to A-levels exams chaos

It follows the scrapping of moderated grades in Scotland after a massive outcry when more than 124,000 results were downgraded.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders. Picture: Archant LibraryGeoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders. Picture: Archant Library

Ministers have denied the exam system has been thrown into “confusion” following the changes, which also affect how GCSE results will be assessed.

Nick Gibb, the schools minister for England, acknowledged that the Government was “concerned” about what had happened in Scotland but insisted the system in England remains “robust”.

However the move was condemned as “panicked and chaotic” by headteachers’ leaders, who warned that it would lead to “massive inconsistency” in the way grades were awarded.

Students will be able to appeal for an upgrade if their A-level results are lower than mock exams. Picture: Getty ImagesStudents will be able to appeal for an upgrade if their A-level results are lower than mock exams. Picture: Getty Images

Geoff Barton, a former Bury St Edmunds headteacher, now general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “The idea of introducing at the 11th hour a system in which mock exam results trump calculated grades beggars belief.

“Schools and colleges have spent months diligently following detailed guidance to produce centre-assessed grades, only to find they might as well not have bothered.”

Mr Barton said mock exams are not standardised and some students may not have taken them before schools closed in March.

City College Norwich principal Corrienne Peasgood. Picture: Nick ButcherCity College Norwich principal Corrienne Peasgood. Picture: Nick Butcher

City College Norwich principal Corrienne Peasgood said it was inevitable students would feel anxious.

She said: “I fully understand that it may be difficult to accept a grade you have been awarded when you haven’t had the opportunity to sit final exams.

“We know that grades are at the top of everyone’s agenda, but it’s important to remember that the knowledge and skills which students have gained over the past two years of study will pave the way for their success in the next stage of their journey.”

Students will recieve their A-level results via email this year rather than picking them up at school. Picture: PA ImagesStudents will recieve their A-level results via email this year rather than picking them up at school. Picture: PA Images

MORE: When are results published, how do grades work? Norfolk student questions answered

Ms Peasgood said in an “extraordinary year” universities and high education institutions will be sympathetic.

“More so than in any previous year, I expect institutions to be very willing to talk in detail with students about their suitability for courses, even if their grades aren’t quite as hoped,” she added.

John Fisher, cabinet member for Children’s services at Norfolk County Council, said: “Although students were not able to sit exams this year, I hope they will be satisfied with the grades they have worked hard for.

John Fisher, cabinet member for childrens services. Picture: Norfolk County CouncilJohn Fisher, cabinet member for childrens services. Picture: Norfolk County Council

“They have shown remarkable resilience during an extraordinary time.”

• We will have live coverage of A-level results on our website today. Don’t miss tomorrow’s paper for reports, results and analysis.

HELP IS AVAILABLE WHATEVER YOUR RESULTS

University

If you’ve applied through UCAS to university or college, you can login to Track from 8am on results day to check whether you’ve been accepted by your firm or insurance choice. The UCAS results day guide will help you to prepare for results day.

If your results don’t meet the conditions of any of your offers you’ll automatically be entered into Clearing where you can apply to universities and colleges that have course vacancies. You can also check out the Which? University guide to Clearing.

If your results are better than you expected the UCAS adjustment service has courses with higher entry requirements.

The national Exam Results Helpline on: 0800 100 900 between 8am and 10pm, 7 days a week between 14-29 August.

Apprenticeships

Help You Choose lists apprenticeships available locally and allows you to set up email alerts for vacancies you might be interested in. The National Apprenticeship Service website list apprenticeships across England and Apprenticeships Norfolk also have a list of current local vacancies particularly at the higher levels.

Information and Advice

If you have concerns about the accuracy of your results you should firstly approach your school or college for advice.

For further information go to Your Results, What Next?

The National Careers Service offers careers information and advice to young people and is open between 8am and 10pm every day. You can also telephone a careers adviser on 0800 100 900.


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