Commenting on Boris Johnson's statement to students this lunchtime, in which he referred to grades being derailed by a “mutant algorithm" during this summer's exams fiasco, Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: 

"It is brazen of the Prime Minister to idly shrug away a disaster that his own Government created. Parents, students, teachers and heads will be horrified to see the leader of this country treat his own exams fiasco like some minor passing fad. The public will not easily forget the emotional rollercoaster of this year's results season. It is certain to put a long-lasting dent in the Government's reputation on education. 

"Sally Collier fell on her sword yesterday, but the disaster of this year's exams model has its origins in a decade of Conservative education policy. Kenneth Baker and Justine Greening both agree the current system is not fit for purpose, and the NEU goes further. It needs ripping up, and for students entering exams next summer we need quick and decisive action.  

"That is why we wrote to Gavin Williamson last week. We are calling for a reduction in content assessed in exams next summer, collaboration with the profession to develop a robust national system of moderated centre-assessed grades in case of further outbreaks of Covid-19, and a thorough independent review into assessment methods along the lines announced for Scotland. (1) 

"At the same time we launched a matching petition, which now exceeds 50,000 signatures.” (2) 


Editor’s Note 

Letter, 19 August 2020.