Unions respond to exams announcement

Government plans to create grades for students who exams are cancelled this summer must take into account the barriers that students from disadvantaged backgrounds face, the UCU said.

While the NEU welcomed the move, with assistant general secretary Nansi Ellis saying: “Teachers are trained to assess their students and already do so throughout the year. Evidence shows teacher-assessed grades are reliable and valid”, the UCU said its research showed that high-achieving, disadvantaged students are more likely to have their grades under-predicted than their wealthier contemporaries.

UCU also said that it would be consulting with the staff tasked with working under the new system.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “This is of course a unique and difficult situation, but we have concerns that students from disadvantaged backgrounds may lose out here. Research shows that students from disadvantaged backgrounds tend to have a better than predicted improvement in their academic attainment at A-level stage.

“The government needs to set out how it will ensure that all students’ talent and potential will be properly recognised and rewarded. We will be consulting with our members to get their views on these plans and feed them back to ministers.

“The current situation highlights the weakness of a heavy reliance on exams for key qualifications, and should give food for thought in terms of future reform.”

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