Will GCSE results be delayed?

THE political storm caused by the A-Level results last week has left some people demanding that Thursday's GCSE results be delayed.

Here's everything you need to know about what could happen this week as another results day looms.

Will GCSE results be delayed?

The ongoing furore over A-Level results has left some in doubt that this week's GCSEs will even be released.

The results for Year 11s traditionally comes a week after the grades for Year 13s do but the controversy over an algorithm used to determine A-Level results has left this uncertain, especially the same algorithm will reportedly be used for GCSEs.

Even some Conservatives are now suggesting that, as public anger swells, GCSEs should be delayed.

Robert Halfon, chairman of the Commons education committee, said: "Unless they have fair appeals and unless [exams regulator] Ofqual make clear their model won’t disadvantage unfairly, then perhaps this is one route they may need to consider."

Lord Baker, a former cabinet minister, has also told the government to "stop digging" and said the results should put off to give time for the system to be revised.

While Labour have stopped short of saying GCSEs should be delayed, they have called on the Boris Johnson to "get a grip" on the issue.

The government have remained surprisingly quiet on the issue as the debate raged on into the weekend, with no signs of a U-turn or a change in how GCSEs will be handled appearing to be on the cards.

The fallout from the A-Level grades continued yesterday as hundreds of students protested in parliament square and exam regulator Ofqual withdrew its appeal system and said it was under review.

Who is Lord Baker and why has he called for results to be postponed?

The Lord Baker of Dorking – otherwise known as Kenneth Baker or Lord Baker – is a Tory Lord who has called for the results to be postponed.

The experienced parliamentarian was Secretary of State for Education from 1986 to 1989 under Margaret Thatcher and brought in GCSEs during his tenor.

He later served as party chairman and Home Secretary.

He called on the government to delay GCSEs results after he blamed the "flawed" algorithm for making a mess of A-Levels.

Lord Baker told the Daily Mail: "I urge the Education Secretary to instruct Ofqual not to release the GCSE results this Thursday as their algorithm is flawed.

"The A-level results have produced hundreds of thousands of unfair and barely explicable downgrades.

"They have helped smaller private schools but hit the brighter students in a poorly performing state school. It is not surprising that various parties are considering legal actions.

"The GCSE results should be postponed for two weeks. The Government can then decide either to accept the predicted grades or invite heads to resubmit new predictions which should not exceed three per cent of their performance in 2019."

What happened on A-level results day?

A-Level results day is a stressful time in a normal year, as young people across the country wake up knowing the future of their education rests on a few letters written within an envelope.

But during a pandemic the pressure is amped up ten times, with no student having sat an exam because of the school closures caused by coronavirus.

It was left to teacher assessments to deduce what grade each student should get – but also moderated by exams regulator Ofqual to stop grade inflation.

This is the process when grades jump beyond average levels and risk making results worth less.

The algorithm used by Ofqual is however, according to many parents, far from perfect, and results day saw as many as 39% of A-Level students downgraded by one or two grades from what the teacher's predicted they could get.

This led to extraordinary stories of students going, for example, from an A to a C, or a C to a U in order for results to remain consistent with previous years.

Defenders of the system say teachers were handing out inflated grades, but many critics are pointing out that since the school's previous performance is taken into account by the algorithm, it is very possible that bright students at low-performing schools are being penalised for reasons entirely out of their control.

Some have labelled the algorithm as rewarding grades by postcode and being classist against students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Scotland saw the same debate explode a week earlier, with Nicola Sturgeon's government forced into an embarrassing U-turn and reinstating teacher's predicted grades for Scottish students.

If GCSE results are delayed when would pupils receive their grades?

With the government still holding their cards close to their chest, it is hard to know for sure.

Lord Baker's bet of two weeks seems the most likely, as it would give ample time for the under-fire algorithm to be adjusted and wouldn't interrupt the academic year too much.

Anything that stretched beyond two weeks and into September would risk causing disruption for students as they look to begin A-Levels.

How are GCSE grades calculated this year?

At the moment, it appears Ofqual's algorithm will again be in use for GCSE grades.

The Observer reports that more than 4.6 million GCSEs in England – around 97% of the total – will be rewarded solely by the Oqual algorithm.

Teacher assessed grades will not even be considered, but their ranking will be, with teachers expected to order students from highest-achieving to least to help the algorithm dish out grades.

With more students, parents and teachers involved and more grades affected by the moderation system, it is likely the anger could grow.

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