A YORK MP has welcomed his own Government's U-turn on exam results.

Ofqual announced toay that A-level and GCSE results in England will now be based on teachers’ assessments of their students, unless the grades produced by the controversial algorithm are higher, regulator Ofqual has announced.

York Outer MP Julian Sturdy MP welcomed the U-turn after he previously spoke out against the Government’s handling of the results process and had written to the Secretary of State, Gavin Williamson, to encourage him to head off a similar fiasco when GCSE results are published this week.  

Mr Sturdy said: “I have received dozens of letters in the past week from students and parents who are rightly angry with Ofqual and the Government for allowing the Covid-19 pandemic to disrupt their futures in this way. 

 "I am glad that the Government have seen sense on this issue and acknowledged that 2020 should be seen as a complete one off. Reverting back to teacher-assessed grades will be fairer on the individual student, who would otherwise have had their results dictated by a statistical model rather than their own achievements. My concern remains however that this may have come too late for some who have already lost out on university places and I call on all universities to be as flexible and understanding as possible.”

Ofqual chairman Roger Taylor said in a statement: “We understand this has been a distressing time for students, who were awarded exam results last week for exams they never took. The pandemic has created circumstances no one could have ever imagined or wished for. We want to now take steps to remove as much stress and uncertainty for young people as possible – and to free up heads and teachers to work towards the important task of getting all schools open in two weeks.

“After reflection, we have decided that the best way to do this is to award grades on the basis of what teachers submitted. The switch to centre assessment grades will apply to both AS and A-levels and to the GCSE results which students will receive later this week.

“There was no easy solution to the problem of awarding exam results when no exams have taken place. Ofqual was asked by the Secretary of State to develop a system for awarding calculated grades, which maintained standards and ensured that grades were awarded broadly in line with previous years. Our goal has always been to protect the trust that the public rightly has in educational qualifications.

“But we recognise that while the approach we adopted attempted to achieve these goals we also appreciate that it has also caused real anguish and damaged public confidence. Expecting schools to submit appeals where grades were incorrect placed a burden on teachers when they need to be preparing for the new term and has created uncertainty and anxiety for students. For all of that, we are extremely sorry.

“We have therefore decided that students be awarded their centre assessment for this summer – that is, the grade their school or college estimated was the grade they would most likely have achieved in their exam – or the moderated grade, whichever is higher.

“The path forward we now plan to implement will provide urgent clarity. We are already working with the Department for Education, universities and everyone else affected by this issue.”

Alistair Jarvis, chief executive of Universities UK, said: “The events and confusion of recent days have added further uncertainty and distress to students who have already faced many difficulties as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The best interests of students must be the priority, and universities are being as flexible as possible with applicants and will continue to support students to find a suitable university place.

“Today’s policy change will mean that more students will have the grades that match the offer of their first choice university. This will cause challenges at this late stage in the admissions process – capacity, staffing, placements and facilities – particularly with the social distance measures in place.

“Universities will do everything they can to work through these issues in the days ahead. The Government will need to step up and support universities through the challenges created by this late policy change. We are seeking urgent clarification and advice from Government on a number of crucial issues.”

“Almost 70% of students are already placed with their first-choice institution, but those who are not should think carefully about their next steps, speak to their parents, guardians and teachers and get into contact with their preferred university to advise on their options.”