Mr Williamson should resign as Secretary of State (Education) for 2020 exam mismanagement

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Gavin Williamson should resign from his post of Secretary for State for Education due to the complete mismanagement of the 2020 summer exams.  

Mr Williamson seems at ease with the fact that students can resit examinations in the autumn and that predicted grades were not a reliable measure on their own due to the fact that 75% of students achieve below this. Therefore other factors should rightly be taken into account.

Teachers up and down the country reviewed prior attainment both in the classroom and in mock examinations. They incorporated completed coursework and practical assessments. They analysed the trend in improvements from mocks to final summer exam grades in their schools. They spent hours meeting, discussing, collating data and standardising to come to the centre assessed grades that they truly believed were the deserved outcome for each candidate. 

In England, 36% of grades were lower than teachers predicted and 3% were down two grades. Why were staff who know these students better than anyone asked to use their professional judgement and do right by these young people in calculating deserved grades, and then in 40% of cases - the grades ignored and downgraded anyway? This seems even more unfathomable when it is believed that teachers had over inflated the grades this year compared to expected by approximately 9-10%. The numbers do not add up. 

The overall increase in top grades disguises a great deal of volatility among the results at school and student level. This will have a detrimental impact on many students and many are rightfully devastated with the grades they have been given. 

Additionally, independent schools saw by far and away the largest increase in top grades (A/A*'s) at about 4.7%. Ofqual’s deputy chief regulator Michelle Meadows also confirmed that pupils from lower socioeconomic backgrounds were more likely to have seen a bigger downward adjustment in their grades. Despite this, she claims that there is “no evidence of systematic bias” in the adjustments. If this does not demonstrate systematic bias in the process, what does? 

Mr Williamson had also claimed that without "checks and balances" to ensure consistency across the country, some schools would simply have assessed all their pupils as achieving the top grades. This not only questions the professionalism and ethics of teachers but implies that the statistical modelling used to generate the eventual A Level grades were never going to really take into account the centre assessment grades. This is despite teaching staff investing significant time and resources into them, during a time where they were working from home, looking after their own families, setting and marking work regularly for their students, checking in on the welfare of young people and planning for the return to school in a world of COVID-19. 

The Education system has failed these young people. This injustice is no fault of the schools, colleges, sixth forms or teaching staff. The Government and Ofqual need to take accountability, apologise and most importantly guarantee the right to individual student appeals, along with waiving the associated fees as a matter of urgency. Mr Gavin Williamson should resign for his part in this shambolic and unfair process.