In a demonstration of the anger and frustration generated by the Government's catastrophic mishandling of this year's A-Level and GCSE grading process, over 25,000 people have already signed our petition to the Prime Minister which launched on Wednesday night.
Parents, students and education professionals are as one in their belief this disaster must never happen again. Together, we are calling for swift action to ensure that students sitting those same exams in 2021 are treated fairly and that none are cruelly disadvantaged by an algorithm.
We are asking Government to:
- Reduce the content assessed in GCSE and A-level exams next summer, across all subjects, to allow for variation in lost learning time
- Work with the profession to develop a robust national system of moderated centre assessed grades in case there is further disruption to exams next summer due to Covid-19
- Commission a thorough, independent review into assessment methods used to award GCSE and A-level qualifications in England, along the lines announced by the Scottish government.
Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary, National Education Union, said:
"This Government has no one but itself to blame. The weaknesses in a system of its own creation have been left horribly exposed. What is needed is nothing short of an independent review into what went wrong, and a determination to ensure it never happens again. That would be a big step towards regaining the trust of parents and the profession."
The wording of the #FairGrade2021 petition, which is addressed to Boris Johnson, is as follows.
"The Government has a duty of care for the nation’s children and young people. In its management of this year’s A-Level grading process, the Government failed in this duty.
"Ministers showed a lack of trust in teachers and leaders, whose assessments of their students’ potential were overwhelmingly discarded in favour of an Ofqual algorithm combined with historic patterns of grades in schools and colleges. Grades were initially awarded, for the vast majority of students, with no reference to, or evidence of, their individual achievements. Young people do not deserve to be treated as numbers in an algorithm.
"This must never happen again. For students due to sit A-Level and GCSE exams in 2021 – young people who have already suffered so much due to the Coronavirus pandemic – it is vital that the Government takes urgent steps to ensure they are treated fairly and that none are disadvantaged.
"We call on the Government to:
- Plan for the GCSE and A-Levels taken by students in 2021 by reducing or making optional the expected content in all subjects. Students starting the final year of their GCSE and A-Levels this September have missed months of schooling: the exams they sit in the summer of 2021 must reflect this lost learning time and include more question choice and a slimmed down syllabus.
- Develop a national system of teacher moderated grades in case there is further disruption to exams next summer because of a second spike or local lockdowns.
- Commission a thorough review into the assessment methods used to award GCSE and A Level qualifications in England, along the lines announced by the Scottish government. All options should be considered, including the possibility of more coursework and systematic, moderated teacher assessment, in order to broaden the assessment system and ensure that young people are rewarded for their achievements, supported to fulfil their potential and not held back due to their background."