'A mega mess': BTec students don't know when they will receive exam results

Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen

Hundreds of thousands of BTec students have been left in the dark about when they will receive their exam results after they were delayed last night, with the schools minister unable to guarantee the day they will be published.

Nick Gibb, the minister for school standards, told ITV News he expects students will receive their grades next week, but said "this is a matter for Pearson, the exam board".

On Wednesday evening, hours before students were due to receive their results, BTec exam board Pearson instructed schools to hold the results amid concerns about "unfairness" in the system.

Pearson said it would work "urgently" to get the grades out to young people, but did not but a timescale on when that might happen.

ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen has more:

Mr Gibb says he told Pearson the results "should go out next week" but he was unable to provide a guarantee that they will.

"My expectation is that they will go out next week," he added.

Robert Halfon, the chair of the Commons Education Select Committee, described the BTec results delay as a "mega mess and it shouldn't have happened".

"The BTec situation is pretty awful...it's symptomatic of the way we treat vocational qualifications in our country," he said.

"Everyone has been obsessing about A-levels, very important, but it BTecs seem to have been forgotten in all of this."

It follows a fiasco over A-level results which saw around 40% of students have their grades downgraded before an extraordinary government u-turn which allowed pupils to use the grades teachers had predicted.

It resulted in this year's A-level students in England having a record high pass rate.

GCSE students were spared the worry and confusion of waiting days for a u-turn after the government agreed it would give students whichever grade was highest; teacher predicted or algorithm based.

Following that decision, this year a record number of pupils were awarded top grades in their GCSEs.

Pearson's Senior Vice President Cindy Rampersaud said the decision was taken to delay BTec results, in order to "ensure fair outcomes for BTEC students in relation to A-Levels and GCSEs and that no BTEC student is disadvantaged".

Students were unable to sit their exams this year due to the coronavirus crisis.

A spokesperson for Pearson said: "Following Ofqual’s announcement that A-level and GCSE students are to receive centre-assessed grades, we will be applying the same principles for students receiving BTec results this summer.

"We will be regrading BTecs to address concerns about unfairness in relation to A-levels and GCSEs and ensure no BTec student is disadvantaged."

On A-levels, it emerged that private school students were not as severely downgraded by the algorithm, owing to an issue with small class sizes.

It meant students from less advantaged backgrounds were the worst affected in the results debacle.

Mr Gibb admitted only a "small proportion" of private school students will be affected by the BTec results delay.

"Pearson took the decision that it was better to delay for a short period than not to have the fairest result possible."

"Pearson took the decision yesterday to look again at the grades of the BTec to make sure that the adjustments that had been made to A-levels and GCSEs did not put BTecs at a disadvantage," he said.