Socialist Worker

Fury forces Tory exam cheats to retreat—now Gavin Williamson must go

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2718

The Tories faced a huge backlash over the exams scandal

The Tories faced a huge backlash over the exams scandal (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Widespread fury over the exams degrading scandal has forced the Tories into a humiliating U-turn. A-Level, AS Level and GCSE students in England and Wales will now receive teacher assessed grades, instead of grades determined by a dodgy algorithm.

The news will be an enormous relief to millions of students and it vindicates all those who protested over the scandal. But it isn’t enough.

Other qualifications, such as Btecs, are not affected by the U-turn. Disgraced education secretary Gavin Williamson is still in position. And the Tories’ refusal to act for days means that many students have already lost their university place.

Futures ruined by Tories’ rigged results
Futures ruined by Tories’ rigged results
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More than 40 percent of A-Level grades were downgraded because they were calculated using an algorithm. Students in poorer areas were much more likely to be downgraded than those at private schools.

Students have endured days of stress and uncertainty. And many now face more uncertainty. It isn’t clear whether students who were rejected from their first-choice university on the basis of their algorithm grades will now be able to go there.

Williamson didn’t even appear to speak about the scandal. Instead, the Tories let the chair of exams regulator Ofqual do the apologising instead.

Williamson should go now. And students should keep up the fight to scrap a shoddy exams system that operates to keep working class students down.

Protest 

At a London protest last week, Btec student Glen told Socialist Worker, “The reason I was able to do all this studying is the teachers. They should listen to the teachers, instead of an algorithm.”

Yet he won’t benefit from the U-turn. And although the Tories apparently accept that their algorithm has been problematic this year, they haven’t said it will go altogether.

Furious students protest over A-Levels scandal
Furious students protest over A-Levels scandal
  Read More

School students across England and Wales will receive their GCSE results on Thursday. The algorithm was estimated to have downgraded some 97 percent of grades.

But using teacher assessed grades instead isn’t perfect. Some teachers have described being “bullied” into downgrading them by school managements.

The Tories will hope their U-turn will draw a line under the scandal. They can’t be allowed to get away with it. We need to keep on the pressure to make the Tories pay for the chaos – and to get long-term changes to the exam system.

“I didn’t go to Eton,” Glen told a protest rally last week. “I’m a former foster kid. When I came to do my GCSEs I was in a shit position. But I dug myself out.

“Now all that goes down the drain because of a post code.”


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