A level and GCSE students could see results U-turn as Boris Johnson breaks off holiday to intervene

GSCE results due out later this week  

Kate Devlin
Whitehall Editor
Monday 17 August 2020 13:56
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The controversial algorithm that has led to misery for thousands of A-level pupils could be ditched, No 10 has hinted.

Boris Johnson has broken off from his holiday in a bid to try to stem the growing crisis over this year’s exam results.

He held a meeting with Education Secretary Gavin Williamson and senior government officials this morning, phoning in from the start of his week-long break in Scotland.

As Mr Johnson comes under increasing pressure from Conservative MPs over the issue, Downing Street appeared to concede this year's exam marks were not fair.

The prime minister’s official spokesman said the government continued to work “to come up with the fairest system possible”.

No 10 also refused to rule out a Scottish-style u-turn to a system based on teachers' predicted grades, dropping the algorithm designed to standardise results.

Earlier senior ministers went public with their criticism of the system, put in place after A-level exams were cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Paymaster General Penny Mordaunt said she was seeking a meeting with ministers at the Department for Education (DfE) about the issue.

"This group of young people have lost out on so much already; we must ensure that bright, capable students can progress on their next step," she said.

The minister added that she had also "made my views on GCSE results known to DfE".

Defence Minister Johnny Mercer said he was "acutely aware of the issues around A-level results and am equally concerned for the GCSE results on Thursday".

In what appeared to be a hint of an imminent U-turn he said: "I do not believe this is the end of the story - there are too many clear injustices.

"At this time we must not panic, and await developments. I am limited in what I can say publicly - I have had many private conversations."

Conservative former education secretary Lord Baker of Dorking has urged ministers to delay the publication of Thursday's GCSE results until the controversy over A-levels has been resolved.

But Downing Street said there would be no delay in the publication of GCSE results.

In Northern Ireland, ministers announced this morning that GCSE students will be awarded the grades predicted by their teachers.

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