Commenting on the ‘triple lock’ announced by Gavin Williamson to meet concerns about the reliability of exam results in England, Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:  

“After months of defending the system devised by Ofqual to determine this year’s GCSE and A level grades, Gavin Williamson has been forced into an embarrassing U-turn.  He should have listened to the concerns raised much earlier by teachers and assessment experts. He should have worked with the profession to establish a sound basis for grades which can determine pupils’ life chances. Ignorance and inaction appear to have been his watchwords. 

“Even these changes do not level the playing field between Scottish and English students. Scottish students were today given the option of having the best grade awarded either by the exam board, or by teacher predictions.  English pupils do not have this option. Their alternative to the exam board grade is the grades achieved in their mock exams, which do not take into account expected further progress.  

“Most unfairly, English students are still more likely to be given lower grades - either by the exam board, or by the mock exam.  This fundamental difference in the Scottish and English awarding process does not create a level playing field between Scottish and English students for university entrance. 

“The third option available to English students is to re-take the exams in the Autumn term.  How this will happen in COVID secure schools and colleges is a question which, like so many others, Gavin Williamson has not yet answered.” 



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