Congratulations to all Bristol students getting their A-level results this week. This situation is far from ideal, but I had hope you all feel your hard work has been recognised and you get what you need to move forward. Unfortunately, there are many of you who feel robbed by this process.
I am seriously concerned over the way some results seem to have given some young people less than they deserve and that the effect will be different for different postcodes. Perhaps most seriously, national analysis suggests that the worst-affected schools are those which have recently improved or those in lower-income areas.
Education is supposed to reduce inequalities. This looks like it will do the opposite.
Many of you have written to me with distressing personal stories of how you the Ofqual’s inadequate algorithm has reduced grades dramatically from those predicted, causing some students to lose university places. Without the AS levels, scrapped by the Tories a few years ago, there are no recent formal results to inform the process of grading.
I am working to represent students and schools throughout this process. Over the next few days, I will compile information to send to the Secretary of State for Education to ask for urgent changes, ensuring no-one is prevented from taking the next step by an unfair and unjust system.
I am also worried that this is far from transparent. In normal years, data on students’ results would be publicly available, but this year it is completely opaque. For many, the difference between two grades could be life-changing, so students deserve at least to know how their grade was decided and whether this was fair.
Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green assured me that she is pressing the government to consider every possible option to resolve this injustice, which looks set to cause a number of problems for students further down the line. I will be updating Kate on problems faced by schools and students in Bristol West, so that it can be raised nationally.
There is an appeals process, but it is still not clear how it will operate. At the moment, only schools can appeal results. Labour is pushing for the appeal fee to be waived and to allow individual students to be able to appeal.
This fiasco is just the latest in a series of scandalous episodes which show the Tory government is unable to manage this crisis. Many young people are extremely worried about an uncertain future. The government needs to get a grip.
If you’re affected by this
Students and parents are welcome to get in touch with my office and we will do everything that we can do to update and support them through the appeals process.
In the first instance, please talk to the school about what they suggest. At the moment, schools can appeal the results but students and parents can’t. You need to talk to the school about whether an appeal or sitting an exam would be appropriate.
If you have missed out on a university or college place, I am advising all students to get in touch with the admissions tutor or head of department and try to arrange to discuss the position with them. Please let me know if you have further problems with this or with clearing.