Commenting on results released today, Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:
“Congratulations to all students receiving GCSE, BTEC and other level 2 vocational results today. The hard work and effort that has gone into these results means students should be truly proud of their fantastic achievements, particularly given the adversity and disruption they’ve faced throughout their courses.
“Every grade is evidenced by examples of students’ work and performance and so everyone can rely on these grades to help students move on to their next step. Like with A-Level results on Tuesday, any talk of different profiles of grades must take into account an understanding that the system used this year was different to both last year and other years previously. To make comparisons without this understanding would be inaccurate.
“A-Level results on Tuesday also demonstrated just how well grades awarded by schools and colleges reflected students’ work. Ofqual said that on checking the evidence that backed up the grades, exam boards asked schools and colleges to reconsider less than 1% of grades submitted. No matter the proportions of grades nationally, this means that schools and colleges have clearly submitted well-evidenced, reasonable grades for students.
“It is refreshing to know that all students will receive a grade based on their own work and their own merit. In a normal year, the number of top grades is a relatively fixed proportion and the decision about which grade a student gets comes down to where they sit in the rank of order of exams scores. This year’s grades, being evidenced by example of students’ work, arguably tell you far more about what each individual knows and can do.
“Due to this phenomenon in normal years, NEU members are clear that lessons from the pandemic can be learned which could improve the assessment system in England and make grading standards more meaningful and robust. As such, the NEU is supporting an independent commission on assessment and qualifications, chaired by Professor Louise Hayward of the University of Glasgow, which seeks to meet the future needs of students, teachers, our economy and our society.
"This is by no means the end of the road for these students' education recovery. We need to see sustainable learning for them as they progress to the next stage, so that they can be properly supported as we emerge from the pandemic. This calls for significantly better funding than has been pledged by government.
“The workload that was thrust upon students and teachers alike, to ensure grades arrived today, cannot be ignored. Information about how to award grades in the absence of exams came to them far too late and, before that, there was a shameful refusal by government to offer any kind of Plan B. This negligence is continuing into 2022 with no hint from government of a contingency plan, when one is surely needed. We demand Gavin Williamson urgently lays out plans for grading next summer, to avoid a repeat of the unacceptable chaos and workload caused by him this year.”
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