News | Published August 17 2020

Greater Manchester mayor to pursue legal action over exam grading system

As pressure mounts on the government to resolve the exam grades crisis, Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has made public his intent to write to exam watchdog Ofqual and pursue legal action over the algorithm system which has calculated this year’s A-Level results.

Burnham said he had already taken legal advice and “expects to be writing to Ofqual” later on Monday to begin legal proceedings.

Burnham labelled the algorithm system, which has come under widespread criticism, as “deeply flawed”.

The system, tasked with awarding grades after the Covid-19 pandemic saw exams cancelled, has seen 280,000 A-Level results in England downgraded from teachers’ predicted grades, equating to almost 40 per cent of total entries.

In Wales, 42 per cent of A-Level results were lowered from teachers’ estimates.

The Scottish government issued an apology for the downgrading of results north of the border and instead revised grades to match teachers’ predictions.

The downgrading of results in England since sparked protests in London over the weekend with hundreds of students taking part in demonstrations.

Following A-Level results day last Thursday, Burnham has today tweeted: "So it looks like the Government ARE digging in and standing by their deeply flawed system.

"In that case, I will be taking legal advice this morning and have instructed leading Counsel. I expect to be writing to Ofqual later today to initiate action."

The Greater Manchester mayor had said of the grading system last week: "It is clear to me that the system used to mark A-levels is inherently biased against larger educational institutions.

"Given that a higher proportion of students from Greater Manchester attend such institutions than in other parts of the country, I am concerned that the marking system has been unfairly discriminatory against young people here, in part due to the institutions they attend."

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Authored by

Alexander Bridge-Wilkinson
Junior Editor
August 17 2020

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