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Source: Labour List UK

© UK Parliament / Jessica Taylor

Keir Starmer has declared that a move away from the current A-Level results and a return to the original teacher predicted grades is now the “best option available” amid uproar over unfair outcomes for pupils.

Labour’s education lead Kate Green has criticised the downgrading of nearly two in five A-Level grades in England as a “huge injustice”, and demanded that fees for schools and colleges appealing results should be waived.

But the Labour leader is now going further by calling for the UK government to perform the same U-turn that the Scottish government led by the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon was forced to undertake earlier this week.

Commenting on the chaotic situation, he said: “Across the last 24 hours we have heard heartbreaking stories and the scale of the injustice caused by the fatally flawed results system has become clear…

“The unprecedented and chaotic circumstances created by the UK government’s mishandling of education during recent months mean that a return to teacher assessments is now the best option available.

“No young person should be at a detriment due to government incompetence. Time is running out. We need action in days, not weeks. That also means an urgent technical review of the standardisation model ahead of GCSE results next week.”

Starmer has described the system that saw hundreds of thousands of A-Level results downgraded on Thursday as “fatally flawed”, adding: “Young people and parents right across the country, in every town and city, feel let down and betrayed.”

280,000 teacher assessed A-Level results were revised downwards yesterday by an algorithm criticised by teachers, pupils and parents, with the Association of Colleges warning that the process “may have been biased”.

39% of pupils had their marks downgraded, and disadvantaged pupils have been worst-affected. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has told Ofqual to “remove bias” and allow students to appeal directly.

“We will continue to discuss this with Ofqual and consider all our powers so that ethnic minority and disabled children, for example, are treated fairly in this process,” the chief executive Rebecca Hilsenrath said.

In one case highlighted by BBC Newsnight, a state school student had a conditional offer to read medicine at Cambridge. He was predicted four A*s but received one A* and three As, and the offer was withdrawn.

The government said students may be able to use mock results in the appeals process – if they took mock exams this year, and if they were conducted in an as yet unspecified way – but the process is still unclear.

Schools minister Nick Gibb was also accused by Starmer of “grossly misleading” students, as he had promised that downgrading would be “by just one grade”. Ofqual figures show that this was not true for around 24,000 grades.

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said that the algorithm used has “baked in inequalities for a lot of students” and “penalises children, in effect, on where they live or which school and the history of that school”.

Equality impact analysis published by exam regulator Ofqual shows that private schools increased the proportion of students achieving top grades – A* and A – twice as much as pupils at comprehensive schools.

MIL OSI United Kingdom