IND GCSE Results Day - Live coverage - The Independent

IND GCSE Results Day

    Good morning, and welcome to The Independent's live blog of GCSE results day, in a year when exam results across age groups have been marred by both the coronavirus pandemic and then repeated U-turns over how the rules will be applied.
    8/20/2020 6:05:00 AM

    Hundreds of thousands of students anticipate GCSE results following major U-turn on grading

    Students throughout the country are waiting with baited breath for their GCSE results, after the government made a crashing U-turn on grading due to backlash over A-level results last week.

    Exams this year have been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, and teenagers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will receive their final results, the higher of either their teachers’ estimated grade or the moderated grade.

    But Btec pupils will have to wait longer for their grades amid last-minute changes.

    Thousands of A-level results were downgraded last week, leading to uproar by students, parents and teachers. The government later announced in the U-turn that GCSE and A-level students would be able to receive grades based on assessments by teachers, rather than an algorithm that was originally used to moderate grades.

    Btec grades were not included in the original U-turn, but exam board Pearson said on Wednesday it would regrade Btecs to “address concerns about unfairness”.

    8/20/2020 6:45:51 AM

    Gavin Williamson and Ofqual warned of flaws in grading system weeks ago - reports

    The education secretary and exams regulator Ofqual were warned at least a month ago about flaws in the grade moderating system for A-level and GCSE exams.

    According to The Times, Gavin Williamson was warned by Sir Jon Coles, a former director-general for schools at the Department for Education, that the algorithm risked giving inaccurate results for hundreds of thousands of students.

    The Independent’s Conrad Duncan has the full story:

    8/20/2020 6:50:14 AM

    Students may face ‘scramble’ for college places

    Better-than-expected GCSE results being released today could lead to a “scramble” for places in oversubscribed sixth-form colleges after the government U-turned on the grading system.

    The Sixth Form Colleges Association said there will probably be higher demand from students - the same issue faced by universities who have had to defer places due to the influx of students.

    Zoe Tidman reports:

    8/20/2020 7:04:10 AM

    Btec students will hopefully receive results next week, says Nick Gibb

    The Schools Minister has said he is hopeful that students will get their Btec results next week.

    Btec results have been delayed by exams board Pearson, who said it would regrade Btecs to “address concerns about unfairness”.

    Nick Gibb told the BBC: “Pearson are working to correct and to review those grades and to reissue them.

    “And we're working closely with Ucas and the independent regulator and exam boards to make sure that no young person will be disadvantaged as a consequence of that delay.”

    He added: “Having spoken to Pearson and all the exam boards yesterday, I believe that they will be delivered next week.”

    8/20/2020 7:15:11 AM

    Gavin Williamson should publish all correspondence on grading system for transparency, says shadow education secretary

    Labour's shadow education secretary Kate Green has called for her opposite number to publish all his correspondence about the use of a controversial grading algorithm.

    In a statement, she said: “Gavin Williamson was warned again and again about the problems with the grading algorithm, and each time, he did nothing.

    "This endless pattern of incompetence is no way to run a country. His failure to listen to warnings and to act on them risked thousands of young people being robbed of their futures.

    “It is time for full transparency. The Department for Education must now publish all correspondence to and from the Secretary of State in which concerns about this algorithm were discussed, as a matter of urgency.

    “Young people deserve to know how they came to be let down so badly.”

    8/20/2020 7:30:11 AM

    Schools Minister Nick Gibb apologises for ‘the pain and the anxiety’ caused by grading system

    Schools Minister Nick Gibb has apologised to GCSE and A-level students for pain and anxiety caused by the controversial moderating system that saw thousands of students’ A-level results downgraded.

    Speaking to BBC Breakfast, he said: “To those hundreds of thousands of young people receiving their GCSE grades and the A level students receiving recalculated grades, I will say this to them, congratulations on what you have achieved.

    “But also how sorry I am for the pain, the anxiety and the uncertainty that they will have suffered as a consequence of the grading issues we encountered last week.

    “And to reassure them that we are doing everything we can to put these matters right."

    8/20/2020 7:45:11 AM
    8/20/2020 8:00:11 AM

    Behind The Headlines: Why does Gavin Williamson still have a job?

    Following the backlash over the grading algorithm used for A-level results and the ensuing screeching U-turn the government made, The Independent's Ben Kelly and Jon Stone discuss the controversy and why the Education Secretary is still in his post.

    Listen to the podcast below:

    8/20/2020 8:15:11 AM

    Scottish Tory leader calls on Gavin Williamson to ‘reflect’ on grading controversy

    Douglas Ross, Scottish Tory leader, has refused to back the UK Education Secretary over the exam results backlash.

    Mr Ross suggested Gavin Williamson should have taken action quicker after problems with the grading system in Scotland became apparent.

    He previously called for Scottish Education Secretary John Swinney to resign after the exams U-turn there.

    Ashley Cowburn reports:

    Scottish Tory leader refuses to back Gavin Williamson after exams chaos

    The Independent'I’m not here to say in your report that I think Gavin Williamson has done a great job and he should continue,' says Douglas Ross

    8/20/2020 8:30:11 AM

    Proportion of top GCSE grades surge to record high after U-turn

    The proportion of GCSE entries in England awarded top grades has surged to a record high after the government’s U-turn meant results could be based on teachers’ estimated grades instead of the moderated system that caused chaos last week.

    More than one in four (25.9 per cent) GCSE entries in England scored one of the three top grades this year, up from just over a fifth (20.7 per cent) last summer.

    Figures from exams regulator Ofqual show the proportion receiving at least a 7 or an A grade is at a record high.

    More than three in four (76 per cent) entries were awarded at least a 4 of a C grade in England, up by 8.9 percentage points from last year when 67.1 per cent achieved the grades.

    The higher number of top grades means colleges are expecting to be overwhelmed by students vying for places. Staff are also bracing for “challenging” conversations with GCSE students who are unhappy with their results, said Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL).


    8/20/2020 8:45:11 AM

    Government has no ‘contingency plan’ in event of further disruption

    The general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders has said the Government remains without a contingency plan in the event of further disruption next year.

    Geoff Barton said in a statement on Thursday: "This year more students will receive higher grades because of the decision to revert to centre-assessed grades.

    "But this is by accident rather than by design. In the longer term, we have to think again about our statistics-fixated system. We have to do better.

    "Another lesson for the longer term, is that we must surely reduce our reliance on a massive national bout of terminal exams each summer.

    "There was nothing to fall back on in this crisis, unprecedented though it was, and the Government still doesn't have a contingency plan in the event of disruption next year."

    Mr Barton said he was "hugely impressed" by the "painstaking care" that leaders and teachers had taken over centre-assessed grades.

    He added: "The profession rose to the challenge admirably. It was events beyond our control that sunk the standardisation model. Schools and colleges have once again been left to clear up the mess."

    8/20/2020 9:04:59 AM

    Gavin Williamson congratulates GCSE students

    The Education Secretary has said those receiving their GCSE results today should feel "incredibly proud" of what they have achieved "in the face of immense challenge and uncertainty".

    Gavin Williamson said: "This is an exciting day and young people now can look forward to taking their next steps, whether that is returning to schools and colleges in September to do A-levels or our brand new T-levels, or taking one of the many other routes available like starting an apprenticeship.

    "I also want to pay a special tribute to teachers and school leaders this year who have shown dedication, resilience and ingenuity to support their students to get to this moment."

    8/20/2020 9:15:29 AM

    Nick Gibb gave ‘a lot of thought’ to resigning over results furore

    When asked if he had offered his resignation over the A-level results controversy, the Schools Minister told LBC he had “given it a lot of thought”.

    Speaking to Nick Ferrari on LBC, he said: “I’m a human being. When I saw those young people who had worked solidly for two years, expecting As and Bs, going to pick up their grades and find three Ds and losing their place at veterinary college… of course, it’s heartbreaking.

    But Mr Gibb said offering his resignation would have been “the wrong thing to do” when asked again.

    “There will be inquiries into these issues and my focus has to be on making sure we put these issues right - that young people get the grades that are fair and they can move onto the next stage of their careers.”

    8/20/2020 9:30:11 AM
    8/20/2020 9:45:29 AM

    Factbox: Key figures in today’s GCSE results

    Here are the main statistics in this year’s GCSE results for England only. Top grades refer to grades of 7 or above, equivalent to an A or above.

    - The proportion of entries receiving the top grades has jumped to 25.9 per cent, up by 5.2 percentage points from 20.7 per cent in 2019 and a record high.
    - 76 per cent of entries received a grade 4 or above (equivalent to a C or above), up 8.9 percentage points from 67.1 per cent in 2019. This is also a record high.
    - The overall pass rate was 99.6 per cent, up from 98.3 per cent in 2019. Again, this is a record high.
    - The most popular subject this year was the science double award with 814,708 entries, followed by mathematics (734,301) and English (733,551). The least popular subject was engineering with 2,818 entries.
    - The proportion of entries receiving top grades in mathematics rose from 15.9 per cent to 19 per cent, while in English it jumped from 13.9 per cent to 18.7 per cent.
    - In three subjects, over half of entries received the top grades: chemistry (53.2 per cent of entries), physics (53 per cent of entries) and biology (52.8 per cent of entries).
    - The biggest jump in percentage points in the proportion of entries receiving the top grade in a single subject was in engineering, where the figure rose from 11.3 per cent in 2019 to 26.4 per cent in 2020. This was an increase in 15.1 percentage points.
    - In total there were 5,182,991 entries for the exams, up by 107,316 on last year (a rise of 2 per cent).


    8/20/2020 10:00:29 AM
    8/20/2020 10:15:07 AM

    Nick Gibbs insists algorithm did not disadvantage poorer pupils

    The UK schools minister admitted he was warned that the grading model used to determine A-level results last week could disadvantage poorer students, but claimed in the end it did not.

    The model, which has been scrapped, downgraded thousands of results and sparked protests by students.

    Zoe Tidman reports:

    8/20/2020 10:30:07 AM

    'Nobody really cares about bad GCSE results: Daisy May Cooper offers words of comfort

    Actor Daisy May Cooper, of This Country, offered up words of wisdom and comfort to students receiving their GCSE results today.

    In a video on Instagram, the two-time Bafta winner said when she was awaiting her own GCSE results in 2002, she was “beside” herself with worry and couldn’t concentrate on being on holiday and her summer fling.

    “I bigged up all my revision, which I hadn’t done, to my parents and said, ‘Yeah, I’m going to get really good marks’, and I knew I wasn’t and I felt sick to my stomach,” she recalled.

    “I just thought, ‘I don’t know how I’m going to get through this’, and I tell you what - it doesn’t matter, it really doesn’t matter.

    “I got a lot of Us and in the scale of things… nobody really cares about bad GCSE results,” she added.

    8/20/2020 10:45:07 AM

    Exam results fiasco on par with post-Second World War education system, says headmaster

    One headmaster has compared the situation surrounding exam results this year to that of the post-Second World War education system.

    Gavin Horgan, headmaster of Millfield School in Somerset, told the PA news agency that whilst students gaining “the best grades possible in the circumstances” was a positive thing, there are “bigger hurdles ahead”.

    “They absolutely deserve that, and they never deserved the shameful approach that was taken to get to this point by the Government and exam boards,” he said.

    “However, bigger hurdles are ahead. The results received by students and the hiatus in education for many across the country, means that we will have legacy issues which will, in all likelihood, last a generation.

    “The pressure on the university system, the threat to post-92 universities, which are a vital element of our further education tapestry, and the knock-on implications of grade inflation for Year 11 students going into A-level studies this year and for those same students next year when they look to apply to university, cannot simply be written off in the same way that results have been this year.

    “Sadly, we are just at the very start of the problem,” he added.

    8/20/2020 11:00:07 AM
    8/20/2020 11:15:07 AM
    8/20/2020 11:30:07 AM

    Government lifts cap on medical students places

    The limit on the number of medical student places this year has been scrapped as ministers grapple with the continuing crisis over A-level results.

    Similar caps on teaching, dentistry and veterinary courses will also be dropped and universities will receive additional funding to teach expensive subjects, reports Whitehall Editor Kate Devlin.

    Read the full story below:

    8/20/2020 11:45:07 AM
    8/20/2020 12:00:07 PM

    Quarter of GCSE students upset at missing exams this year due to coronavirus 

    Pupils receive their GCSE results at Copley Academy in Stalybridge, England (Getty)

    25 per cent of GCSE students are upset they missed their exams because of the coronavirus pandemic, which could have impacted their final grade, a survey has found.

    The survey of over 6,500 students also found that 39 per cent of GCSE students are worried the coronavirus pandemic will have an impact on their next academic year.

    Conducted by digital learning platform Quizlet, the survey also found that 66 per cent of students felt upset that traditional graduation ceremonies will not take place this year as the virus continues to infect people.

    Rahim Hirji, UK manager of Quizlet, said: “For the first few months of lockdown, many students were under the impression that they would indeed be taking exams this year and our data showed lots revising through study sets in preparation.

    “Although the decision to cancel exams was deemed necessary – these extraordinary circumstances have understandably left a lot of students feeling bereft. 

    “For every student today rewarded for their assiduity, there is one who feels understandably let down.

    “The revision period is key for students across the country, yet this was stripped from them this year due to exam cancellation. Quizlet saw a 200-400 per cent growth in new sign-ups when school closures happened in Spring, but industrious students weren’t able to apply this learning that would have been so key for their results.” 
    8/20/2020 12:20:07 PM

    Factbox: Summary of GCSE results in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

    Here is a summary of the overall GCSE results in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

    All figures are provisional and were published separately by regulators Ofqual, Qualifications Wales and the Northern Ireland Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment.

    Proportion of entries awarded:
    - 9: 6.3 per cent (up from 4.5 per cent in 2019)
    - 8 or above: 14.4 per cent (up from 11.2 per cent)
    - 7 or above (equivalent to A or above): 25.9 per cent (up from 20.6 per cent)
    - 6 or above: 40.8 per cent (up from 34 per cent)
    - 5 or above: 58.2 per cent (up from 50.6 per cent)
    - 4 or above (equivalent to C or above): 76.0 per cent (up from 67.0 per cent)
    - 3 or above: 90.1 per cent (up from 84.3 per cent)
    - 2 or above: 96.9 per cent (up from 93.8 per cent)
    - 1 or above: (equivalent to G or above) 99.6 per cent (up from 98.3 per cent)

    Proportion of entries awarded:
    - A or above/7 or above: 25.9 per cent (up from 18.4 per cent in 2019)
    - C or above/4 or above: 74.5 per cent (up from 62.8 per cent)
    - G or above/1 or above: 99.6 per cent (up from 97.2 per cent)

    Northern Ireland
    Proportion of entries awarded:
    - A*: 12.4 per cent (up from 8.3 per cent in 2019)
    - A or above: 37.1 per cent (up from 31.6 per cent)
    - B or above: 60.5 per cent (up from 51.5 per cent)
    - C or above: 74.2 per cent (up from 67.7 per cent)
    - C* or above: 89.4 per cent (up from 81.9 per cent)
    - D or above: 95.3 per cent (up from 91.1 per cent)
    - E or above: 98.1 per cent (Up from 95.3 per cent)
    - F or above: 99.2 per cent (up from 97.5 per cent)
    - G or above: 99.7 per cent (up from 98.7 per cent)

    8/20/2020 12:40:07 PM

    Help colleges help BTEC students still waiting for results, union says

    The government should commit to increasing funding and capacity in colleges to ensure students still waiting on BTEC results don’t miss out, the University and Colleges Union (UCU) has said.

    Jo Grady, general secretary of the UCU, said: “Students have worked incredibly hard in difficult conditions this year. But due to Government chaos, BTEC students will have woken up this morning expecting to receive their results only to be told that a private company has pulled them.

    “The Government now needs to fix this mess so students can plan for the future. We need to stop turning education into a marketplace, end the absurdity of private providers assessing results, and put students first.

    “If we see a similar increase in Btec pass rates as we have seen in GCSEs then many more students will be able to go to college. The Government now needs to commit to increasing funding and capacity so that no student is left behind and so colleges can safely welcome students in the middle of a pandemic.”

    8/20/2020 1:00:07 PM

    Everything you need to know about appealing your GCSE grades

    GCSE student Qais Hussain breaks down the appeal process for pupils who did not get the results they wanted today.

    8/20/2020 1:20:07 PM

    Protesters call for Education Secretary to resign over exams furore

    Protesters are set to call for Gavin Williamson to resign amid ongoing exams chaos and have called for “justice for BTec students” as hundreds of thousands are still waiting for results.

    Zoe Tidman reports that fresh protests are planned for Friday, outside Downing Street in London and at St George’s Hall in Liverpool.

    Get the full story here:

    8/20/2020 1:35:17 PM

    Concern over government accountability when ‘something goes wrong’

    Sir Bernard Jenkin, Tory chairman of the Liaison Committee, has said he is “concerned” that when something goes wrong “it is never the Government's fault”.

    Speaking on BBC Radio 4's The World At One programme about the GCSE fiasco, Sir Bernard said: “Well ministers have to make decisions - they either support their people or they get rid of them and get new people, and they can't have a halfway house.

    “And I think that... I am concerned that there's a sort of pattern setting in under this Government that something goes wrong and it is the permanent secretary's fault or it's some public body's fault, but it is never the Government's fault.

    “I recognise that there is a lot of frustration in Government about Government machinery not seeming to function very well, or not responding to what ministers want, but the only way that the Civil Service can deliver what ministers want is if there is a free and open and trusting flow of information backwards and forwards from ministers and officials.

    “If the whole... discourse between ministers and officials becomes stifled in an atmosphere of blame and fear, then I don't think civil servants will be able to support ministers very effectively.

    “Who is going to stick their head over the parapet, tell the minister the bad news, if they're going to get blamed for it? There needs to be a much more collaborative approach to running the Government than has been demonstrated.”

    8/20/2020 2:00:17 PM

    More students than ever likely to attend college following record GCSE grades

    College leaders have said more students than ever are likely to attend college and progress to A-levels and vocational courses as the GCSE pass rates for maths and English hit record highs today.

    Nearly three in four (71.2 per cent) entries in England received a grade 4 or above (equivalent to a C or above) in English this year, compared to 61.8 per cent last year.

    Data published by exams regulator Ofqual showed the pass rate for maths also increased, by seven percentage points. Two int here entries received a grade 4 or above, compared with 59.6 per cent last year.

    David Hughes, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said course choices “may be different” this year because of the results.

    “With an increase in top grades and passes, it is likely that more students than ever will progress to Level 3 vocational courses or A-levels,” he said.

    “At the same time there may be fewer apprenticeship opportunities for school leavers because of the pressures in the labour market.”

    He added that although he is “certain there is enough capacity in colleges despite an expected increase in applications, support from the government is needed to ensure “colleges have the confidence that they will be funded to meet the demand”.

    8/20/2020 2:17:17 PM
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