Commenting on A-Level results, Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said: 

"We congratulate all students and teachers on their resilience and dedication throughout an extraordinary year. Today’s results were achieved amidst unprecedented levels of disruption and adversity, but students can rest assured that they have been judged according to the work they have actually done.

Each student has received a grade which was arrived at using evidence of their own work, rather than relative to the work of others or through a high-stakes one-off exam. We are pleased that Ofqual has been so forthright in reiterating this. That this may have led to different proportions of grades than other years should have been expected – a completely different system has been used. It isn’t a reflection on the value of the grades and simply shows how the exam-only system pre-pandemic did not allow all students to demonstrate their abilities. 

“Exam boards checked evidence supporting grades at every single school and college in the country to ensure the grades were reflective of students’ work. Students and parents can therefore have every confidence in the results received, but of course an appeals process is in place which they should feel able to pursue if necessary. It is Gavin Williamson’s job to ensure this is properly resourced so that any uncertainty can be swiftly resolved without further increasing the workload of hard-pressed teachers and school leaders. Young people’s futures must not be stalled by a Government whose record on action has been so poor. 

"Emerging from the pandemic should be an opportunity to reassess the established ways in which we carry out exams and award qualifications.  That is why 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. 

"Gavin Williamson may commend teachers today, but his praise comes too late – and rings hollow. Late and incoherent guidance on how they should submit grades resulted in increased workload and stress for teachers as well as uncertainty for students. Government has taken school and college staff for granted and ignored their calls throughout this pandemic, maintaining the silence of a monk for much of it. This cannot and must not continue.”