Headteacher blasts ‘ridiculous’ suggestion schools would inflate GCSE grades

PUBLISHED: 10:07 20 August 2020 | UPDATED: 17:29 20 August 2020

Andy Johnson, executive headteacher of the West Norfolk Academies Trust. Picture: Ian Burt

Andy Johnson, executive headteacher of the West Norfolk Academies Trust. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant © 2013

Claims that teachers have inflated this year’s GCSE results have been blasted as ridiculous by an education chief.

After problems with last week’s A-level results, which were initially downgraded after being based on an Ofqual algorithm, the GCSE results will be based on centre assessed grades.

Andy Johnson, executive headteacher of the West Norfolk Academies Trust which runs four high schools, told BBC Radio Norfolk teachers up and down the country used their best professional judgement to give students the grades they deserve.

He spoke out after Ofqual said a minority of teachers had submitted “implausibly high” grades for pupils.

He said: “Because everyone went to school a small minority feel they can criticise and say how we would cheat the system which is quite frankly ridiculous. We are trying to make the best of the situation. It is a ridiculous idea that teachers would mark everyone up.

“To give a child a grade nine when they deserved a four would not be good for that child. Why would we do that?”

Mr Johnson added that every type of assessment was imperfect but education staff have taught their pupils for up to five years and moderation processes were in place.

The executive headteacher said: “My own GCSE science students wrote to me to say they wanted to take the exams. They said. ‘We want to show you how we have improved and how we are ready’.

“These young people wanted to take the exams. Sadly that was taken away.”

MORE: Thousands of students set to receive GCSEs today after chaotic A-level results

He criticised the government’s handling of the A-level results as “shambolic”.

Mr Johnson said: “Seeing the young people and parents in despair was probably one of the worst days of my headship in 10 years. It was horrendous. We are looking at every avenue of support.

“I’m pleased they [the government and Ofqual] have turned things around. The U-turn was the best decision.”

Centre assessed grades and predicted grades for A-levels will now be used after many students felt their grade was downgraded by the Ofqual algorithm.

MORE: Hundreds of Norfolk and Suffolk students face further exam results delay

Mr Johnson added the original way of awarding A-level grades created disparity among pupils.

The executive headteacher feared there would be fewer apprenticeships available to students due to financial pressures from the Covid-19 pandemic and urged businesses to take on apprentices if they could.

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