National Education Union concerns over potentially 'unfair' GCSE and A-level grades

PORTSMOUTH teacher and president of the country’s biggest teaching union, Amanda Martin, has raised concerns about students potentially not getting the grades they deserve ahead of A-level and GCSE results days.

By Neil Fatkin
Thursday, 13th August 2020, 7:00 am
Updated Thursday, 13th August 2020, 7:10 am

With students unable to sit exams, their grades have been calculated based on teacher predictions along with the previous academic performance of individual schools.

It’s the potential weighting of previous school attainment which is of greatest concern to the National Education Union leader who fears whole cohorts of students could be unfairly penalised based on the performance of previous students.

Ms Martin said: ‘We have real concerns and feel this is totally unfair. It doesn’t take into account the performance of a cohort of students can change from year to year and schools can also improve. It will also disadvantage children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

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National Education Union president, Amanda Martin, is concerned that pupils may not get the grades they deserve on results days.

‘The ranking of students to fit grade boundaries takes place every year but this year it will feel more personal to the children if they don’t get the grades their teachers have been predicting.’

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The union president feels greater trust should have been placed on teachers’ judgements.

‘Schools worked really hard to submit their grades on time and these professional judgements should have been accepted,’ commented Amanda.

Union’s concerns have been raised as some students began to get early A-level results.

One such student was Katy Forest, 18, who has been informed by the Cambridge International Exam Board that she has got a grade D for maths despite being predicted a grade A. She was registered as an independent candidate at the Faregos Exam Centre in Fareham after moving to Hampshire part way through her course with the online school, Inter High Education.

Katy, from Waterlooville, said: ‘My friends who had similar predictions but were registered with other exam centres got much higher grades. I needed to get three As to go to Bath University. I will have to speak to them on Thursday and just hope they are understanding of the situation.’

Katy’s dad, Richard, believes Katy’s result has been detrimentally affected by the fact the exam centre had only previously had one maths candidate who also got a D.

Richard said: ‘The system doesn’t account for situations like Katy’s. I understand the principle but doesn’t take account of individual circumstances and in this case was based on a sample of one.’

While centres can appeal the grades, Richard feels that due to such a small sample, applying the same formula would result in the same outcome.

The News contacted the Cambridge International Exam Board who, while not willing to comment on individual cases, stated: ‘Teacher predicted grades for June 2020 were higher than historical school performance data for the last three years.

‘To address this we have standardised grades using historic centre performance data and the performance of the global cohort in each syllabus this year. This means the grades some students have received may be lower than their teacher predicted grades.’

Concerns have been raised as the Scottish government has confirmed that tens of thousands of school pupils are to have their exam results upgraded after it agreed to accept teacher estimates of their scores. It follows an apology from first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, who admitted the government ‘did not get it right’ over exam results.

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