Education secretary Gavin Williamson resists calls to resign over A-level results fiasco

EDUCATION secretary Gavin Williamson has admitted he is ‘incredibly sorry for the distress’ caused to thousands of students following the A-level results shambles – but has resisted calls to resign over the fiasco and insisted he would remain in post to create a ‘world best education system’.

Tuesday, 18th August 2020, 8:22 am
Updated Tuesday, 18th August 2020, 9:42 am

The top Tory minister claimed the government had put children from the most disadvantaged backgrounds ‘at the heart’ of its development of a moderated grades system.

Mr Williamson said that up until results day last week he had ‘every confidence and reassurance’ the controversial computer algorithm used to grade pupils whose exams were cancelled due to coronavirus would not penalise youngsters.

But five days later – ‘when it became clear there were anomalies’ – the government U-turned, following mounting pressure from students, teachers and education union bosses.

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Education secretary Gavin Williamson. Photo: Victoria Jones/PA

‘I’m incredibly sorry for the distress that this has caused for those youngsters,’ Mr Williamson told BBC Breakfast this morning.

‘This is not something that anyone wanted, whether it’s from our perspective or from the exam board’s of Ofqual’s perspective.

‘But that’s why we had to take action when we did.’

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Thousands of teenagers were left heartbroken after having their predicted results downgraded as a result of an algorithm.

Some students lost as many as two grades on their predicted results, with teaching unions claiming those from disadvantaged backgrounds were hardest hit.

The government had initially said that appeals would allow pupils to use the result achieved during their mock or take on a new exam in the autumn.

But the latest stance means that teacher predictions – which had been disregarded – will now count as an official grade for both A-levels and GCSEs, the results of which are due on Thursday.

Pressed on whether he would resign over the education fiasco, Mr Williamson insisted he would tough it out for the next year.

He said: ‘I am absolutely determined that over the coming year, that I’m going to be delivering the world’s best education system.

‘The improvements and reforms that we have made over the last 10 years need to be built on. That’s what our focus is, that’s what my focus is on and that’s what I’m going to be doing.’

A task force has since been set up to boost university capacity this year and next.

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