Labour has called on the government to rethink its priorities after record numbers of students were awarded the top grade at A-levels.
There was widespread anger on social media at the results, with some claiming the system is ‘rigged.’
Ministers are thought to be considering an overhaul of the marking system amid concerns that “grade inflation” is undermining confidence in the qualifications.
For the second year in succession, students were given grades based on assessment by their teachers after exams were scrapped due to the Covid pandemic.
The results published on Tuesday showed almost 45 per cent were awarded an A or A* amid concerns the system was favouring private school entrants, who recorded the biggest increase.
The Government is reported to be looking at replacing the traditional A to E grades with a numbered system in an effort to shore up the credibility of the qualification.
However shadow education secretary Kate Green said far-reaching changes are required to ensure all students are given the support they need.
“I think that is just tweaking the system to get the Government out of a difficult story,” she told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
“We shouldn’t be just playing around with the grading system here, we should be thinking about the quality of teaching and learning that children are receiving.”
She said the difference in performance between state and private schools was in part the result of ministers’ failure to outline a standardised process for assessing grades.
“The Government didn’t set down a clear standardised process early on last year and schools, therefore, were really awarding grades in very different ways,” she said.
She suggested that in the longer term, there should be a move to a hybrid system based on a mix of course work and exams.
“I think the lesson is that we need a collaborative approach with education professionals to design a robust, workable system which is fair to all students,” she said.
Gavin Williamson facing the axe?
“In my view that probably needs a mix of assessments throughout the period of study, over the two years of the A-level course for example, and an examination.”
Her call comes amid speculation that Education Secretary Gavin Williamson could face the axe in a Cabinet reshuffle later this year.
Mr Williamson was widely criticised over last year’s A-levels fiasco when the Government used an algorithm to “moderate” the results only to later back track in the face of widespread protests.
According to The Times, Boris Johnson is considering replacing him with the equalities minister Kemi Badenoch, who is popular in the Conservative Party for her attacks on “woke” campaigners.
Mr Williamson, a former chief whip who ran Mr Johnson’s 2019 leadership campaign, is however said to be fighting to keep his place in the Cabinet.
The paper said he has been telling colleagues he “knows where the bodies are” in a thinly veiled threat that he would be a dangerous enemy to have on the back benches.
70.1% of students at private schools got A* and A grades— Daniel Kebede (@DanielKebedeNEU) August 10, 2021
39% of students at comprehensives got A* and A grades
Class inequality in action.
Today is a reminder of the inequality in education.— Paul Brand (@PaulBrandITV) August 10, 2021
70.1% of students at private schools got A* and A grades
39% of students at comprehensives got A* and A grades
The gap has widened significantly this year.— Paul Brand (@PaulBrandITV) August 10, 2021
Teachers I’ve spoken to say private schools generally overestimate a student’s abilities in predicting grades, whereas state schools tend to underestimate. Exam season usually comes along and evens this out a bit. Not this year.
Data on A Levels shows ..— Rachel Wearmouth (@REWearmouth) August 10, 2021
?The jump in A grades was 50% higher among private schools compared with state schools & more than double the increase of 6th forms
?Black students, FSM kids & kids from deprived areas less likely to achieve the top A or A* grades
Eleven years of Tory governments.https://t.co/6alSdHp4AT— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) August 10, 2021
The increase in A grade A-levels at private schools was more than DOUBLE the increase for students at Sixth Form Colleges.— Richard Burgon MP (@RichardBurgon) August 10, 2021
Our education system is as rigged as our economy.
The two biggest exponents of the ‘I did well with crap A-levels’ theory – Lord Bethell and Jeremy Clarkson – both went to private schools and inherited wealth, and in one case a title. What they are proving is that posh kids can only fail upwards.— David__Osland (@David__Osland) August 10, 2021
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