Boris Johnson has been accused of “shamefully” seeking to shift the blame for the A-level results fiasco after he told schoolchildren that the chaos was the fault of a “mutant algorithm”.
Speaking to pupils at a secondary school in Leicestershire, the prime minster said that the botching of this year’s A-level results had been “stressful” for teenagers – thousands of whom had their grades downgraded – but said the problem was now “sorted out”.
Nonetheless Labour accused Johnson of trying to shirk responsibility for a “shambles” caused by the “incompetence” of his government – while Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said it was “brazen of the prime minister to idly shrug away a disaster that his own government created”.
In his address, which was broadcast live on social media, the prime minister told pupils at a school in Coalville: “I’m afraid your grades were almost derailed by a mutant algorithm. I know how stressful that must have been for pupils up and down the country. I’m very, very glad that it has finally been sorted out.”
Johnson had previously claimed that the algorithm was “robust” and “dependable”.
Shadow education secretary Kate Green said: “Boris Johnson is shamelessly trying to avoid taking responsibility for the exams fiasco that his government created.
“Responsibility for this shambles lies squarely with Downing Street and the Department for Education, who set out how they wanted the algorithm to work and were warned weeks in advance of issues, but repeatedly refused to address the problems they had created.
“It is this Tory government’s incompetence that is to blame for the exams fiasco.”
Social media users quickly jumped on Johnson’s statement, with many accusing the prime minister of forgetting who is actually in charge.
Related: ‘Brazen’ PM acknowledges stress caused by ‘mutant’ algorithm