A-level results will be fair despite no exams, says Boris Johnson

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Boris Johnson’s spokesman yesterday expressed full confidence in the grading system based on teacher assessments forced by the pandemic. His remarks follow concern that the scrapping of exams is causing grade inflation with record numbers of pupils expected to be awarded top marks.

Ahead of today’s publication of the A-level results in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “Students have worked incredibly hard during an extremely challenging time. They fully deserve their qualifications.

“We know exams are the fairest form of assessment but in the absence of those this year there is no one better placed to judge their ability than their teachers.” 

Union leaders also rejected concerns about grade inflation. Last year’s exam season descended into chaos when a computer algorithm designed to curb grade inflation downgraded thousands of A-level results.

After an outcry, exams regulator Ofqual scrapped the algorithm and accepted teacher assessments instead.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “Students, parents, education providers and employers have every reason to be confident in the results, even though there have been no exams.

“This year’s grades are based on students’ actual work, assessed by their teachers, moderated and quality assured. There are no algorithms this year, just human effort and human expert judgment.” 

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, added: “This cohort of students has suffered more educational disruption than any since the Second World War.”

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Students have worked very hard in what has been an extraordinary and challenging year, and each one should feel incredibly proud of their achievements.

“We should all celebrate their ability to overcome adversity.”

Lee Elliot Major, professor of social mobility at the University of Exeter, said: “More than any other year, we must do all we can to ensure that the A-level results are fair to all pupils irrespective of what school they happen to attend or where they come from.”

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