Labour calls for exams system rethink after record A-level results

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Labour has called on the Government to rethink its priorities after record numbers of students were awarded the top grade at A-levels.

Ministers are thought to be considering an overhaul of the marking system amid concerns that “grade inflation” is undermining confidence in the qualifications.

For the second year in succession, students were given grades based on assessment by their teachers after exams were scrapped due to the Covid pandemic.

The Government is reported to be looking at replacing the traditional A to E grades with a numbered system in an effort to shore up the credibility of the qualification.

However shadow education secretary Kate Green said far-reaching changes are required to ensure all students are given the support they need.

“I think that is just tweaking the system to get the Government out of a difficult story,” she told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

“We shouldn’t be just playing around with the grading system here, we should be thinking about the quality of teaching and learning that children are receiving.”

Shadow education secretary Kate Green
Shadow education secretary Kate Green has called for a Government rethink (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

“The Government didn’t set down a clear standardised process early on last year and schools, therefore, were really awarding grades in very different ways,” she said.

She suggested that in the longer term, there should be a move to a hybrid system based on a mix of course work and exams.

“I think the lesson is that we need a collaborative approach with education professionals to design a robust, workable system which is fair to all students,” she said.

“In my view that probably needs a mix of assessments throughout the period of study, over the two years of the A-level course for example, and an examination.”

Her call comes amid speculation that Education Secretary Gavin Williamson could face the axe in a Cabinet reshuffle later this year.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson
There is speculation that Education Secretary Gavin Williamson could face the axe in a Cabinet reshuffle (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

According to The Times, Boris Johnson is considering replacing him with the equalities minister Kemi Badenoch, who is popular in the Conservative Party for her attacks on “woke” campaigners.

Mr Williamson, a former chief whip who ran Mr Johnson’s 2019 leadership campaign, is however said to be fighting to keep his place in the Cabinet.

The paper said he has been telling colleagues he “knows where the bodies are” in a thinly veiled threat that he would be a dangerous enemy to have on the back benches.

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