A-level students feel ‘let down by government’, says headteacher

Dan Watts, headteacher at the Woodroffe School in Lyme Regis

THE headteacher of The Woodroffe School in Lyme Regis has said students feel “let down by the government” following the release of A-level results last week.

The government this afternoon (Monday) announced a complete u-turn after widespread criticism of downgraded A-level grades issued last week.

Neither A-level nor GCSE students were able to sit public exams this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, and almost 40 per cent of A-level grades were marked down from teachers’ predictions by exam regulator Ofqual’s algorithm

The results were released last Thursday, sparking protests across the country and mounting pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to find a solution.

At last week’s results day, Woodroffe School headteacher Dan Watts said he was “immensely proud” of his students, who still managed to achieve an outstanding set of results.

But, speaking before today’s announcement that the government would now base grades on teacher assessments, he said there had also been disappointments.

He commented: “What we have seen at Woodroffe has been largely in line with what we have seen nationally, but due to our high standards we have faired quite well overall. A large number of students have got into their first choice universities but, of course, there have also been disappointments.

“We have done as much as we can to support our students; I have written personal letters to universities and have had to deal with some very angry parents. You can understand why; this is affecting their children’s livelihoods and futures. They feel let down by the government.”

Mr Watts said he had also been working closely with West Dorset MP Chris Loder, who he said has been “hugely supportive” in challenging central government on the grading issue.

Mr Loder has released an open letter to all A-level students, recognising that some have been “negatively impacted” by the system. 

The government previously announced it would cover costs for those appealing their grades, and Mr Loder suggested those from West Dorset who had been affected should contact him directly.

He added: “I was not fortunate enough myself to be in the position of going to university after sixth form, but I shall be very pleased to help those who you who have been disadvantaged by this grading process.”

Scotland and Wales have also decided to scrap their systems used to award grades, similar to Ofqual’s algorithm, and thousands of downgraded marks will now be revised based on teachers’ input.

Northern Ireland announced this morning that GCSE grades would also be based on teachers’ predictions,

Ahead of the government’s announcement, Mr Watts said he was concerned that the “disastrous” way in which A-level grades had been awarded would also be reflected in GCSE results, which will be released later this week.

Mr Watts explained that 730,000 A-level grades were awarded across the country, but there would be more than five million GCSE grades coming out on Thursday, adding: “If it was horrendous for A-levels, it could be catastrophic for GCSEs.”

However, the government has today announced that GCSE results will also be based on teacher assessments.

Woodmead Halls
About Francesca Evans 2546 Articles
Francesca grew up in Lyme Regis and has worked in community journalism in the area since 2011, having gained a First Class Honours degree in journalism and her NCTJ qualifications at Southampton Solent University.

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