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Teachers preparing to challenge “unfair” grades

Teachers preparing to challenge “unfair” grades

Thursday 13 August 2020

Teachers preparing to challenge “unfair” grades


Teachers are readying themselves to challenge today’s A Level results over concerns that the system used to determine grades in the wake of the pandemic has led to some "unfair" grades.

As exams didn’t take place as planned this summer due to the pandemic, students’ grades were instead issued by exam boards, based on teacher assessments, class rank and past performance.

The system was designed by exam regulator Ofqual, which said it had worked "at speed to develop a process which fairly recognises students' work and makes sure they get their grades in time to progress" following the Education Secretary's decision to cancel 2020 examinations to help fight the spread of covid-19.

However, in the lead-up to results day, there have been growing concerns that some students would not receive fair grades. 

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Pictured: Only 58.7% of grades were left unchanged.

Figures released by Ofqual show that nearly 40% of grades were lower than those submitted by teachers. Nearly a third (35.6%) were downgraded by one grade.

The issue led to protests in Scotland, leading the Scottish government to instead accept the grades estimated by teachers. 

Two schools in Jersey have already indicated they will be challenging grades where they feel they do not reflect their students’ aptitudes.

In a statement released this morning, Carl Howarth, the Principal of Jersey College for Girls, noted that while many students will be “rightly celebrating”, some would not. 

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Pictured: JCG said their results continue to improve year on year.

“A number of students will feel disappointed that this year's process has not allowed them to demonstrate their ability or be awarded the grade we think they deserve,” he said. 

“Where there are anomalies due to the algorithmic OfQual model, we will do everything we can to support our students including appealing their grades.

“As the UK Government, OfQual, Exam boards, universities, schools and students have never been through this before, we will need to stay calm and work through any confusion of unexpected announcements and appeals processes that are not yet clear.”

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Pictured: Beaulieu's Year 13 cohort achieved a 100% pass rate.

Andrea Firby, Head of School at Beaulieu, promised the same. 

“Whilst we are proud of the results achieved by all of our students, where we feel the process has not delivered a fair reflection of a student’s ability based on previous achievement, we will be seeking to challenge the process on behalf of the student.” 

Neither school has released detailed results like in previous years as they await the outcome of potential appeals. JCG noted that the appeals process had not yet been clarified, noting that it did not expect to be in a position to share full results until September.

However, the school did say that it had yet again seen “a year upon year increase in our results especially at the top range of A*-A and A*-B."

Meanwhile, Beaulieu said its Year 13 cohort had achieved a 100% pass rate, including “some excellent results from individual students”, with the majority of students gaining a place at their chosen university. 

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Pictured: Local schools have praised their students for achieving positive results in the midst of a pandemic.

Both Mr Howarth and Ms Firby reflected on the challenges the pandemic posed to students this year.

‘This is a very special generation of students who have encountered significant disruption to the end of their time at JCG as a result of the lockdown,” the JCG Principal said.

“They weren't able to sit the exams they had worked so hard for and did not receive those important events and moments which mark the leaving of a place they love. 

“At every stage, we have been so impressed by their resilience, positive attitude and determination to support each other, their College and the island community.” 

“These are unprecedented times, and the positivity, determination and grace shown by our students during the last few months have really impressed all our staff in the Beaulieu community,” Ms Firby added. 

“I am thrilled that our students have achieved such positive results under such difficult circumstances."

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Pictured: Victoria College achieved the highest percentage, 88%, of A*-C grades.

Victoria College students scored some of the best results in recent years. 88% of all grades were A* - C, is the highest percentage achieved in over 10 years, while almost a quarter of the cohort obtained three A grades or above and almost 40% of all grades were at A or A*.

However, Headmaster Alun Watkins acknowledged some of its students would 'feel disappointed that they were not able to sit their examinations this summer and thus receive the grades they feel they deserved".

"We are delighted with the way in which this year group has coped with the challenges brought about by the cancellation of their examinations. They have shown tremendous resilience and resourcefulness," Mr Watkins said.

"For those students who have not achieved the grades they expected, we will do all we can to appeal these decisions once this process has become clearly defined."

The Headmaster also praised the students for giving back to the local community during "a year like no other". "They have been great ambassadors for Victoria College and their island," he said.

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Pictured: The overall pass rate for the island was 99.5%.

The overall pass rate for the island was 99.5%, which is above the 98.2% pass rate for England.

In total, 449 Jersey pupils were entered for 1,169 A-level examinations. As results this year were calculated by a new process rather than grades for actual examinations, the 2020 results are statistically different from results in previous years.

The Assistant Minister for Education, Deputy Jeremy Maçon, congratulated the students for their "excellent results, particularly given the challenges that the Covid-19 pandemic posed to the academic year".

 

“The fantastic results that Jersey achieved reflects the high standards within Jersey’s education system as well as the hard work of students and teachers," he said.

"I wish all students the best in their future endeavours – whether that is further learning, training or entering the work force. I would encourage anyone who is unsure of what to do next to seek advice for their teachers, career advisers or parents.”

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