HMC comment on assessed exam grades guidance

Following the release today of Ofqual guidance on assessed exam grades, Ian Power, HMC General Secretary, said:

"Heads everywhere will recognise that the interruption to schooling this year presented the exam regulator with a difficult job, and we appreciate the efforts they have put in to ensuring every candidate has a calculated grade.

"Exam results matter. They are the key which opens the door to a young person’s next stage of life, remaining on their CVs forever. Receiving a B instead of an A at A Level can lose a university place, and a 3 instead of a 4 at GCSE can mean moving on or retaking a course. So it is imperative that they are accurate.

"However, we fear that thousands of pupils will not receive a reliable grade this year. This is because the vast majority of grades awarded are being calculated by the exam regulator, using a statistical model which essentially looks at a school’s historic performance and puts grade boundaries over the school’s rank order. This is a necessary but essentially blunt instrument.

"The only way of ensuring justice for individual pupils is to allow for a free appeals process which allows schools to produce robust evidence to challenge grades which are not a fair reflection of the individual pupil’s ability.

"Currently this is available to pupils in Scotland and Ireland, but not in England and Wales. This is systematically unfair to hundreds of thousands of young people and we fail to understand why Ofqual has insisted on closing off this route despite calls from schools and the Education Select Committee.

"We call on Ofqual to change their minds and show that what matters to government is fairness to each young person who has already suffered setbacks as a result of this terrible pandemic."