Expecting the worst: A-Level pupils voice fairness worries as results day looms

A-Level students in England and Wales have said they are “expecting the worst” as they voiced concerns over fairness ahead of an extraordinary results day.

With exams cancelled due to Covid-19, on Thursday students will be given results based on predicted grades by their teachers and their schools’ historical data.

Exam boards have also moderated the grades to ensure this year’s results are not significantly higher than previous years.

A similar system in Scotland saw First Minister Nicola Sturgeon apologise this week after students were downgraded with pupils living in the most deprived areas reduced by 15.2% compared to 6.9% in the most affluent parts of the country.

“A postcode shouldn’t be used to stereotype how someone will do,” an 18-year-old student from the Vale of Glamorgan in South Wales, who preferred not to be named, told PA.

“It’s quite annoying actually not being able to sit the exams because you can’t put into practice the improvements you’ve made.

“It’s weird to think we could be the only ones for a generation (to receive results like this) and perhaps one day it would be taught in the schools we went to.”

Nicola Sturgeon visits school
Nicola Sturgeon visits school

Cheyenne Williams, from Barnhill Community High School in north-west London, said she feels her school year have been “guinea pigs”.

“I’m expecting the worst scenario possible at this point… I have doubts that grades will be allocated on a fair basis,” the 18-year-old said.

“Throughout my academic life, my year group has always been treated like ‘guinea pigs’ when it comes to academic changes such as the introduction of the nine-one (GCSE grading) system (in 2018).

“I’m partially relieved that no one else will have to deal with the stress of being given grades like this… if an event like this happens again in the future I can only hope that things would improve.”

She added that due to the pandemic she will be celebrating receiving her results at home with her immediate family members.

Coronavirus – Mon Aug 10, 2020
Coronavirus – Mon Aug 10, 2020

A 19-year-old student from Durham, who wished to remain anonymous, told PA she has been studying A-Levels for three years after long term illness prolonged her studying.

She said her diagnosis left her with “mediocre” GCSE results and she has spent the last two years with an online private school.

Despite As in her mock exams in January, she worries a low A grade average in her school will ultimately cost her.

“I’m honestly not confident at all that my grades will be kept as they were,” she said.

“With what has been said about (the Scottish exam results) and how they relied heavily on a school’s past performance, I don’t have much hope.”

Schools in England will be able to appeal their students’ GCSE and A-level results if they can show grades are lower than expected because previous cohorts are not “representative” of this year’s students.

Individual pupils will not be allowed to challenge grades themselves and schools and colleges will need to appeal on their behalf.