Boris Johnson faces backlash from MPs as pressure mounts over A-level crisis

GSCE results due to be published later this week

Kate Devlin
Whitehall Editor
Monday 17 August 2020 17:54
Tory MP Robert Halfon says Ofqual handling of exam scandal 'huge mess'

Boris Johnson is facing a growing backlash from his own MPs as pressure mounts on the government to stem the crisis over this year’s controversial A-level and GCSE results.

Conservative MPs and at least one minister have broken ranks to express their concerns over the row, which has led to accusations that poorer pupils have been penalised more than more affluent students.

A number of Tory MPs have joined Labour in calling for an algorithm which has downgraded nearly four in 10 results to be dumped in England and teacher assessments used instead, as they have done in Scotland.

Backbenchers are also pressing ministers to get a grip on the issue before GCSE results are due to be published on Thursday.

In Northern Ireland ministers have announced that GCSE pupils will be given the grades decided by their teachers, not the amended grade, following the outcry over the use of the algorithm.

As pressure from backbench Tory MPs grows, Paymaster General and Cabinet Office minister Penny Mordaunt said she was "seeking a further meeting today" with the Department for Education after speaking with students and parents about exam results.

"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.

She added that she had made her views on GCSE results known to DfE and would be “posting updates later today".

Former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith was among those called for the controversial algorithm - meant to standardise results - to be dropped and replaced by a combination of teacher assessments and mocks.

"No algorithm is going to sort our problem out," he told LBC Radio.

Ex-minister Stephen Hammond said the A-level process had turned into a "shambles" after Ofqual, the exams regulator, published its guidance on appeals over the weekend only to withdraw the document hours later.

"This is not the actions of a body that seems to know what it is doing," he told Sky News.

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