Socialist Worker

Take to streets against Tory exams injustice

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2718

Teachers and campaigners march against education cuts in London in 2018

Teachers and campaigners march against education cuts in London in 2018 (Pic: Guy Smallman)


The downgrading of student A-Level results across England and Wales is a disgraceful attack that has to be resisted.

Nearly 40 percent of students have had their results cut due to a “standardisation” system that hands students in richer areas higher grades.

“This is definitely about deprivation,” student Ahmad told Socialist Worker. “I live in Aston in Birmingham. It’s classed as a deprived area. My school said that based on my mock grades I should get ABC. When I got my results, it was CDE.

“My mate texted me saying he was predicted either ABB or AAB, and for one of his subjects he received a D. He’s doing medicine.

“It’s tough to live in these areas.”

Sarah is Head of Sixth Form at a West London school. She told LBC radio, “I’ve never been so disgusted as I am this morning. What’s happened is cruel, disgusting and absolutely inhumane.

Tory retreat on exams still fails to make the grade
Tory retreat on exams still fails to make the grade
  Read More

“We have a medical course where nine students were predicted a C. All nine have gone down to a U. In our A-Level Biology course, every student in the class has been downgraded by two grades.”

Instead of looking at students’ abilities, the standardisation system instead judges whether they go to a “good” school in a “good” area.

Figures from exam regulator Ofqual showed how the process has benefited private schools.

Independent schools saw a 4.7 percent rise in students getting As or higher between 2019 and 2020.

The figure for secondary comprehensives was 2 percent, and for sixth forms and FE colleges it was just 0.3 percent.

Hoped 

Now many students won’t be able to go to the university they hoped to—if they can go at all.

“I wanted to go to Aston university,” said Ahmad. “But they said they can only accept me if I get my grades. I phoned my school but they don’t even know what’s happening with the appeal process.

“I don’t understand how Gavin Williamson and all the rest of the ministers can let this happen. It’s classic Tory behaviour and it’s very prejudiced.”

Sarah said, “These are students that have worked really hard, often first-generation going to university in their families.

“They’re now finding out they’ve lost their places because their grades have been downgraded so much. The government needs to do a big fat U-turn now.”

End an unfair exam system
End an unfair exam system
  Read More

Students, education workers and union activists have already begun calling protests over the scandal. Protests in Scotland over the downgrading of student results forced the Scottish government into a retreat—although it’s not good enough.

The Tories are nervous about the level of fury over exams—and demonstrations here can push them back.

Sixteen year old student John in Dundee said protests in Scotland were important. “Without protest, it would have just been a few angry comments,” he told Socialist Worker.

“The protests played a huge role in getting the Scottish government to do a U-turn. They knew if they hadn’t done anything, it could have been a lot more people on the street.”

Ahmad said, “I saw the protests in Scotland. That’s what we should have done from the start. I would definitely join if there was a protest.”

Everyone needs to get onto the streets and force the Tories to retreat over their exams fiasco.

Protest in London – Friday 14 August, 12 noon outside Downing Street. Called by school union groups at Islington and Newham Sixth Form Colleges, and backed by other groups

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