A Level results: Pupils frustrated by 'ambiguity' of grades assessment

Asma Maloumi, Megan Brown and Lara Townsend from Parliament Hill School

Parliament Hill School A-level pupils Asma Maloumi, Megan Brown and Lara Townsend - Credit: Parliament Hill School

As the dust settles on A Level results, students’ relief at obtaining university places has been tempered by anger at “confusing” government policy.

Asma Maloumi, a student at Parliament Hill School who has been accepted to study history at Mansfield College, Oxford, said her relief after meeting the requirements of her offer was partly due to the “unpredictability” of results day (August 10).  

She said students “couldn’t gauge how well we’d done” in the absence of formal public exams, and that there was “ambiguity” surrounding what teacher-assessed grades would be based on – mock exams, coursework, or work done in class. Asma recalled crying to her mum the day exams were cancelled. 

This year’s A Level and GCSE grades have been calculated solely by teacher assessments, based on previous mock exams and coursework. The results are signed off by headteachers and submitted to exam boards.  

Asma’s classmate Lara Townsend echoed her frustrations, saying the government’s cancellation of exams existed only “to reassure parents and adults”, not students themselves.  


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“In reality, there was so much confusion as to what was happening, not only for us, but also for our teachers,” she told the Ham&High. 

Despite success stories across the area, pupils expressed a sense of anger at the impact of education being moved online.

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La Sainte Union pupil Nicole said there was a need to adapt as her bedroom became her workplace, but that she was relieved by her offer from the University of Edinburgh.  

Mayo Ogunlabi, the associate director of the LaSWAP consortium, said students of technical subjects have been “significantly affected by the pandemic” due to the lack of specialist equipment available at home, such as editing software. 

Striking a positive tone, Tammy from Parliament Hill said that online learning has “taught me how to study”, and that she feels ready for her economics and finance course at Loughborough University in September.  

UCL Academy pupil Riana Rahmann meanwhile said that the spare time granted by the pandemic allowed her to reconsider her ambitions. She is now about to embark on a foundation year at Central Saint Martins.

“I had time to really assess where I wanted to go. Without it I wouldn’t have decided to go to art school," she said. “It made me think about what I cared about, and art’s what I care about.”

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