An Eden headteacher says the algorithm used to grade A-level students this year is fundamentaly flawed.
All exams were cancelled due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the Government said an alternative system – using estimated grades and an algorithm – would be used instead.
But Gary Hartley, headteacher at Kirkby Stephen Grammar School, said for some students, their result had been marked down by up to three grades and a disparity in the algorithm meant some had fared far worse than others.
He said: “The algorithm they have developed is only applied to subjects containing five or more students, which has led to some significant downgrading for some students.
“However, the algorithm doesn’t work for small groups of below five, which means that students in these classes have been awarded the current assessment grades suggested by their teachers.
“This has resulted in a disparity between grades awarded for certain subjects.
“We will be appealing on behalf of some students due to this.”
Other headteachers have also vowed to support any students who want to appeal their grades after it was claimed that — as in Scotland last week — a higher proportion of poorer students had seen their predicted result downgraded.
Head of Penrith’s Queen Elizabeth Grammar School Paul Buckland said that in spite of the many positive stories, it was clear that for others the system of standardised grades had not worked.
He said: “The professional judgement and the personal knowledge that teachers have of their students’ potential has been ignored in favour of algorithms and data. Performance overall is lower than in previous years and I am not clear why this is the case.
“Also, given the importance of these results to all students, it is disappointing that the Government appears to be making policy on the hoof with no thought of the impact it has on students. The chaotic and random introduction of the use of mock grades 24 hours before results day exemplifies the shambolic nature of the system.
“Given months to prepare and establish an approach that puts students first, this last minute bodge does little to instil confidence.”
Head of Appleby Grammar School Andrew Lund said: “Thankfully we have achieved a strong set of A-level results with many stories of individual success. Our students will now be able to progress to their chosen routes of university, employment and training and we wish them well for the future.
“Sadly the national picture for A-level results is chaotic. It is wrong that that this important day for young people is mired in controversy. Instead we should celebrate all our young people have achieved, supported by their teachers, at a time of unprecedented challenge for families and communities.”
Stephen Gilby, Ullswater Community College head, added: “The grades our students are receiving are the result of the national standardisation of centre-assessed grades we submitted in June. We hope that the students believe they have received grades that reflect their hard work and depth of learning throughout their courses.
“The majority of students will be pleased with their results and will have the keys to go on to their anticipated destinations in September.
“We acknowledge that for some they may be disappointed and we await further information from the Government in relation to recent announcements and any additional steps we may need to take.”