School exams in the UK, including GCSEs and A-Levels were cancelled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, which meant students were forced to rely on their predicted grades. However, these predicted grades were lowered far below what was expected, and students are confused, angry and disappointed.
“My future has been set back completely,” says Abbi Fitzgerald, who received a distinction* in her engineering BTec, which is the highest grade achievable, but her A level results arrived with a D in art and maths and an E in physics, and now she cannot attend her desired engineering course at Durham university. Fitzgerald said that “I had my heart set on Durham and it’s now not an option for clearing because there’s no clearing for my course.”
Teachers submitted the predicted grades to the exam boards and ranked their pupils based on who they thought would do best, which the exam boards then analysed alongside the data recorded for each pupil from previous years in order to adjust the marks accurately. Head teachers have spoken out on the unfairness of the results, and records show that private schools in England have seen the biggest rise in top A level grades, to which Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said, “Something has obviously gone horribly wrong with this year’s exam results, nearly 40% of young people have had their grades marked down and that’s thousands of young people whose opportunities could have been dashed.”
Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary for England has asked exam boards to encourage schools and students to appeal against their results if they fear disadvantaged students were being affected, saying that “There is sometimes a danger where you have an exceptionally high-performing child in a low-performing school to be in a situation where they don’t get the grades that they want to.”
In contrast, figures from UCAS, the admissions service, show that out of the 358,860 applicants there has been a 2.9 per cent increase in the acceptance to UK based degrees compared with 2019. Out of those applications, 316,730 have been accepted on to their first choice, which is a 2.7% increase from 2019 too.
Education correspondent, Sean Coughlan gave an analysis of the data, summarising that those trying to get into university may find that they are able to get accepted with lower grades than in previous years, which is good news alongside the appeal process for the students who didn’t receive the grades they had expected.
The overall state of confusion must not result in students losing their hope, to which Jeremy Clarkson left a tweet of encouragement (which also led to ‘N and a T’ trending on Twitter. You do the adding here).
Whether success to you is riches or wealth of experience, if you want to live in a luxurious home in the Cotswolds or not—is besides the point, there is enough evidence out there that you don’t need the best results in school to do well in life, no matter where you come from, but it is crucial that every student is examined equally in school exams and given a fair opportunity for higher education.