Coronavirus has changed everything. Make sense of it all with the Waugh Zone, our evening politics briefing. Sign up now.
The government has denied that the exam system in England has been thrown into “confusion” following a last minute change to the way A-level and GCSE results will be assessed.
Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, announced late on Tuesday that students will be able to use their results in mock tests to appeal if they are unhappy with the grades they are given.
The move – less than 48 hours before students receive their calculated A-level results following the cancellation of actual exams amid the Covid-19 crisis – comes in the wake of a dramatic U-turn by the Scottish government.
Scotland’s education secretary, John Swinney, announced that moderated grades would be scrapped following a massive outcry after more than 124,000 results were downgraded.
Nick Gibb, the schools minister for England, admitted that the government was “concerned” about what had happened in Scotland but insisted the system in England was more “robust”.
He said that only a “small number” of students would be affected by the change and insisted that ministers have nothing to apologise for by acting so late in the day.
“There is no confusion. We have been very clear from the very beginning. We had to have a system in place to award qualifications to young people given that we had cancelled the exams,” he told BBC Breakfast this morning.
“We apologise to nobody for finding solutions, even at the 11th hour, to stop any student being disadvantaged by this system.”
Kate Green, Labour’s shadow education secretary, said it was only “fair enough” that the government should say sorry.
“What students and their families and teachers are concerned about is getting a fair assessment process,” she said.
“I think that’s what students are looking for, confidence that they can get on with their lives, and that the work that they have done, the hard work that they’ve put in, is going to be properly recognised.”