Students protest against A-level result downgrades

Youth protests in London this weekend. Credit: PA Images.

Protests have taken place at multiple locations in the Midlands against A-Level result downgrades, as the Government performs a humiliating U-Turn.

It comes after almost 40% of A Level students saw their grades move down from their teacher predicted grades after they were modified using a computer algorithm.

Now, following criticism from students, headteachers and a backlash by Tory MPs, grades will now be based on teachers’ assessments rather than the controversial algorithm devised by regulator Ofqual.

Codsall Community High School student Monica Lewis had arranged the protest where students marched from their school in Education Secretary Gavin Williamson's constituency to the MP's office.

Monica said she was left devastated to find she had been downgraded from her predicted grades due to the use of the algorithm. She had hoped protests would encourage the government to fix the "appalling outcome" - something she will now be delighted with.

Students protested the downgrading of A Level results in Nottingham city centre Credit: ITV News Central

Another protest happened in the centre of Nottingham, organised by 18-year-old Ava Hemsley.

The student from Gedling had been given predicted grades of A, B and C by her teachers at Nottingham Girls' High School but was handed a B, C and E. 

Yesterday furious students marched on Westminster to demand the resignation of the Education Secretary, after another setback for those who feel their exam results were unfairly downgraded.

Youth protests in London Credit: PA Images

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson had made a "triple lock" commitment that students could use the highest result out of their teacher's predictions, their mock exam or sitting the full exam in the autumn.

Abby Harding's maths A Level result was downgraded from a C to a U Credit: ITV News Central

Abby Harding from Atterton in Leicestershire applied to university with predicted grades of ABB. The grades that she was assessed for by her teachers were given as ABC.

But in her formal results given out last week, once they had been modified, she came out with ABU.

She says she felt awful having received those results, saying it was "shocking... that someone could fail you for an exam you haven't taken."

Abby says she believes the reason her Maths grade was modified to a U was because the school had had students who got that grade in previous years, and so somebody needed to get that grade again this year, according to the algorithm.

Her acceptance at university has now been declined, although her first choice institution has told her it will save her place if she is successful with her appeal - though it left her future very uncertain.

There was disbelief at Westminster after guidance for children in England seeking to appeal against their grades being marked down was suddenly withdrawn without explanation.

On Saturday, Ofqual published its criteria for appeals based on mock exams, saying if the result was higher than the teacher's prediction then the latter would count.

But hours later the regulator said the policy was "being reviewed" by its board and further information would be released "in due course".

There's now also growing pressure on the Government to delay the publication of GCSE results, which have used the same algorithm, until problems with A Levels results have been resolved.

The Department for Education (DfE) has said it is continuing to work with the regulator Ofqual to build as much “fairness into the appeals process as possible” to help what it described as the “most difficult cases”.

“Ofqual continues to consider how to best deliver the appeals process to give schools and pupils the clarity they need,” a DfE spokesman said in a statement issued late on Sunday.

Read more: