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North London headteachers slam ‘5-day A Level fiasco’ and ‘shambolic’ government handling of exam results

PUBLISHED: 08:00 20 August 2020

Pablo Tranchell, Kireina Kitashiba-Edwards, Eleanor Goldthorpe, Adam Edmond and Beth Scully leap into the air after a successful A Level results day at LaSwap in Camden. Picture: Polly Hancock

Pablo Tranchell, Kireina Kitashiba-Edwards, Eleanor Goldthorpe, Adam Edmond and Beth Scully leap into the air after a successful A Level results day at LaSwap in Camden. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

After the government’s U-turn saw it abandon the algorithm used to moderate A-level results, north London teachers have damned Whitehall’s handling of a “five-day fiasco”.

Highgate School headteacher Adam Pettitt. Picture: Highgate SchoolHighgate School headteacher Adam Pettitt. Picture: Highgate School

Adam Pettitt, head at Highgate School, was among those in both independent and state sectors to speak out over a “shambolic” week that initially saw large numbers of 18-year-olds receive “downgraded” results, adjusted to fit historic patterns.

The government came under huge pressure for these to be scrapped and pupils to be given teacher-assessed grades instead, and Whitehall relented on Monday. Mr Pettitt said: “Even though the news of the government’s U-turn only took five days to come, it was an incredibly difficult period for these young people.”

READ MORE: ‘Common sense has prevailed’: A Level results u-turn welcomed in north London

He was “hugely relieved” the initial results were withdrawn, saying they were “inhumane” and would have represented a huge setback for social mobility.

Robin Street, co-principal at UCL Academy in Swiss Cottage, echoed this. He told the Ham&High: “It’s the right decision, and the fair and just one for the students. who didn’t get fair results.

“Last week there were many kids who were very pleased. But behind the scenes we have been really worried about the students who didn’t get what was deserved.”

Vicky Bingham, head at the independent South Hampstead High, said she was pleased students had “some clarity” and that “many of the injustices done” had been righted. She called the process “shambolic”, and added: “The solution was the right one and I am relieved, but let’s not pretend the problem of the A-levels fiasco has gone away.”

Lindsay Pinnick, Highgate Wood School’s director of sixth form, was also pleased that “Ofqual has put an end to the grading fiasco”.

She said: “These students have lost out on so much. It is therefore right that their grades now allow them to progress onto their next steps in life.”

Although pleased, all the teachers said the situation had, as Mr Street put, “dropped universities in it”.

Government ministers have said they are “working closely” with universities to resolve issues of capacity.


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