“Final year students across South Yorkshire have faced a hugely challenging time over the last six months. They did not ask for the disruption which COVID has caused at such a critical time in their lives, and they deserve our sympathy and our praise for sticking with it despite all the obstacles. And they deserve our congratulations on their results – whether for A-levels or for vocational qualifications.
But far too many of our students have been let down by the government’s shambolic mishandling of grade moderation. Allocating marks fairly was always going to be a serious challenge given the disruption to exams, but a system that downgrades 40% of exam marks – with a disproportionate impact on students in our most deprived communities – is one that is simply not fit for purpose. Where you grow up should never determine where you end up.
The government needs to act with the utmost urgency to fix this mess. They should guarantee the right to a free, individual appeal, and follow Scotland’s U-turn by returning to teacher assessments for affected grades. We need action in days, not weeks, including an immediate review of GCSE grade moderation.
This crisis also greatly reinforces the need for strong and targeted support for young people in the aftermath of COVID. I’m again asking the government to fund our Renewal Action Plan so we can create 3,000 apprenticeships and tens of thousands of training and job opportunities.
Many young people who have had their marks downgraded are understandably deeply upset and worried as a result of this chaos – as are the parents and teachers who have done so much to support them. The government needs to do right by them, and it needs to do it now.”