Parents putting ‘enormous pressure’ on teachers to change grades

Parents are pressuring teachers to change their children’s grades if they are not happy with what was originally given, the shadow education secretary has said.

Kate Green said she has heard “too many” reports from school leaders about the “enormous” pressure from parents who want grades boosted.

She said many teachers, students and families are already apprehensive about the “chaos” and “confrontation” that may ensue this summer.

Coronavirus – Thu Feb 25, 2021
Shadow education secretary Kate Green said teachers and school leaders across the country are ‘desperate to do the right thing’ for their students (House of Commons/PA)

Speaking at the Festival of Education, Ms Green said: “Young people and their parents are worrying about whether they will get the grades they need for the next stage of their life, whether that’s in university, college, an apprenticeship or the workplace.

“Students have spent years working towards this point, but they fear that all of their hard work will be thrown into disarray in another summer of exams chaos that everyone, except it seems the Government, could see coming months ago.”

She said teachers and school leaders across the country are “desperate to do the right thing” for their students in what she said are “incredibly challenging” circumstances.

“They want to be fair, and to ensure that young people can progress to the next stage in their life journey.

“But the Government’s failure to put in place a credible plan has put education staff under enormous pressure, exacerbating already all but unmanageable workloads and putting them on the front line of a system that many fear will create distress and confrontation between teachers, students and parents.

“Because, while the Government have said that they’re backing teachers and supporting them throughout the process, the reality is they’ve been left to carry the can for a system that I am hugely worried cannot deliver fairness,” she said.

Ms Green told the online festival: “I’ve heard too many reports from teachers and school leaders concerned about enormous pressure coming from parents to change grades if they’re not satisfied with the grade their child is awarded.

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“I’ve heard students comparing notes about the different ways in which they’ve been assessed.

“The lack of consistency, not just from region to region, or school to school, but even within individual schools, is really striking, and it’s concerning.

“It compounds the uneven learning experience that students have had over the past 15 months, as some parts of the country were hit again and again by Covid restrictions, as some students were sent home again and again to isolate, and as some lacked the resources for effective home learning.”

Teachers across England have finalised decisions on their pupils’ GCSE and A-level grades after this summer’s exams were cancelled for the second year in a row.

They have drawn on a range of evidence when determining grades, including mock exams, coursework, and in-class assessments using questions by exam boards.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has told MPs he wants to see students sitting GCSE and A-level exams next year, but there are likely to be “adjustments and mitigations” in place to ensure fairness to pupils currently in Years 10 and 12.