Commenting on Gavin Williamson's announcement of a review of the university admissions system, Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:
"The proposal to move to using real, rather than predicted A level grades to allocate higher education places is overdue and welcome. It has the potential to eradicate some of the weaknesses in the current system, in particular the under-estimation of predicted grades for disadvantaged students. It should also eliminate any bad practice of unconditional offers which can tie students into courses which are not most suited to their interests and to their future career prospects.
"However, whilst offers rely so heavily on grades - even when made after results are received - admissions will only ever be as fair as the system which awards these grades.
"To truly have ‘fair’ admissions we need a fairer qualification system in England - one which is fit for purpose for the 21st century. Currently, grades are based on exams at the end of the course and this disproportionately benefits those who have greater means to prepare for such exams. Covid has exposed a range of inequalities baked into the grading system in England, as well as the way home learning environments are deeply unequal. That is why the National Education Union has called for a review of the system in its recent Fair Grade petition.
"Any move to post-qualification higher education admissions is going to require careful thought and planning. We expect teachers and leaders to be consulted, and fully involved throughout."
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