Rupa Huq MP with Ellen Wilkinson School for Girls students last year
Rupa Huq MP with Ellen Wilkinson School for Girls students last year

This news featured in Ealing Today and Acton W3

Local MPs have welcomed the Government’s U-turn on A-level and GCSE grades, with Rupa Huq describing it as “a victory for the thousands of students who spoke out against this historic injustice.”

Both the MP for Ealing Central and Acton and Brentford and Isleworth’s Ruth Cadbury have applauded the announcement by Education Secretary Gavin Williamson and Ofqual that students in England will be given grades based on their teachers’ assessments rather than an algorithm.

In a statement issued at 4pm on Monday 17 August, Mr Williamson said he was “sorry for the distress this has caused young people and their parents” after 280,000 A-level students were downgraded, with some by more than one grade. 4.6 million GCSE students were expected to receive lesser grades than they had been predicted on 20 August.

Ealing Central and Acton MP Rua Huq, whose 16-year-old son is awaiting GCSE results on Thursday, celebrated the climb-down and said pupils, parents and teachers had been vindicated. The MP had written to the Minister last week demanding that he revert to teacher-devised “Centre Assessed Grades”.

In the letter, she wrote, “The best solution to this sorry mess is to respect teachers’ professionalism and allow the painstakingly completed centre-grade assessments to stand. Teaching-staff know students best, certainly better than a dubious computer formula […] I urge you to rectify these injustices swiftly, the future of a nation’s youth are depending on this.”

Ruth Cadbury called for clarity on University places and for those taking vocational courses. She said; “So many local students told me they were devastated by the algorithm score they were granted, and so will be pleased to hear their Centre Assessed Grades will hold as their A-levels score. However many students are still in limbo and may have to defer University entry for a year, as there is no clarity about university places. There are also still uncertainties for those taking vocational courses such as BTECs who appear to have been ignored by the Government.“

She continued, “It’s good that the Government have finally listened to students, teachers, parents and MPs and have finally addressed the criticisms. But frankly, this debacle could have been avoided if Ministers had paid proper attention from the moment the exams were cancelled”.

Rupa Huq added, “Teacher-assessed grades are not ideal but in the absence of exams they are the right way to go. The Government has put young people through hell these past few days — finally they have listened to hundreds of thousands of students who missed out on the grades they deserved after years of hard work, some of whom marched on Downing Street to make their voices heard.

“My inbox was being flooded with heart-breaking cases of students who had missed out in a case of levelling down — the very opposite of the ‘levelling up’ Boris Johnson said they would be champions of. The Tories’ had five months to right this wrong. “

Local head teachers who also expressed concern about the government’s handling of the affair include Dame Alice Hudson of Twyford CofE School in Acton who appeared on Channel 4 News and penned an article in the Spectator saying that the government needed to trust teachers. Sarah Raffray, head of the independent St Augustine’s Priory School in Ealing, who wrote in the Times and the Standard condemning what she described as the way the teaching profession was being devalued.

Among students pleased by the U-turn is Curtis Parfitt-Ford, the 18-year-old Ealing resident who is raising money to launch a judicial review challenge against the Government’s use of the much-criticised algorithm. Parfitt-Ford, who received A*A*AA last week, has raised over £28,000 in a matter of days to support his legal challenge.

He tweeted, “This is a win for students up and down the country. The Government must now urgently clarify how the results will work for vocational qualifications such as BTECs.”

Mr Williamson told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on this Tuesday, “I would like to start off by apologising – saying sorry to all those young people who’ve been affected by this. This is something none of us expected to see and none of us wanted to see.”

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