Education Secretary Gavin Williamson says exam system is 'robust' and 'fair' but defends his 'triple lock' plans

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Paul Davies

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson described the exam system in response to the coronavirus pandemic is "robust" and "fair" but defended his "triple lock" plans for students to appeal their grades.

Speaking to ITV News the day before pupils receive their A-Level results on Thursday, he said that he was confident in the system put in place but said there were options for students dissatisfied with their marks.

Mr Williamson said: "We have every confidence that the system we have put in place is a robust system, the system is fair for the pupils.

"But we're wanting to make sure that there's a triple lock there so that youngsters have the option of either taking the moderated grade that they've been provided by Ofqual (The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation), they have the option of going to an October series of exams if they are dissatisfied or equally the appeal process they could use and actually provide their mock exams as to evidence of the grade they feel they should be having."

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Paul Davies

Students can appeal the moderated marks by using their mock grades. Credit: PA

In an 11th-hour decision, it was announced that students could use the results in mock exams which will carry the same weight as calculated results.

The move – less than 48 hours before students receive their calculated A-level results – came after a dramatic U-turn by the Scottish government following results controversy.

Universities and schools across England have demanded clarity from ministers over how pupils will be able to appeal over the grades they receive.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer branded it a "fiasco", adding: “To have an 11th-hour decision that’s caused widespread chaos amongst teachers I have been speaking to, families and young people – it smacks of incompetence.”

Earlier, Mr Williamson told the BBC: "I'm not going to hesitate in terms of actually making changes if I can get the system as fair as possible for every single child."

He added: "I apologise to every single child right across the country for the disruption that they've had to suffer."

He said he would never have expected to be in a situation to close schools or cancel an exam period and said that he was determined to see all children in England back to school in September.

In the event of local lockdowns, he said he would "expect schools to be very much the last thing to be closing" but if necessary, he would want to see "a continuity of education".