Analysis

Bigger class, bigger downgrades. Wrong postcode, bigger downgrades. Tories’ smash-and-grab algorithm scandal robs poor pupils and massively boosts rich

Theft of working-class and especially ethnic minority kids’ futures is a criminal act

The scandal of the downgraded A-level awards has grown bigger with the revelation that the governnment’s algorithm used to adjust grades was designed to guarantee a huge negative impact on students from working-class and especially ethnic minority areas – and a huge boost to the children of the wealthy.

The algorithm’s adjustments were weighted to apply downgrades to more children the larger their class size – and also included postcodes in its calculations.

Bigger class? Down you go – in spite of years of Tory claims that increasing class sizes driven by cuts didn’t damage our children’s education. Poor postcode? Down you go again.

The algorithm also weighted up for small classes and wealthier areas and the effect was clear: ordinary sixth form and further education colleges lost out massively – while the private schools used by the wealthy saw their number of As and above hugely increased.

Private schools benefitted more than state schools to the tune of of almost 16 to 1:

The Sixth Form Colleges Association found that a third of their members had seen results from the process that bore “little or no” resemblance to achievements in previous years – and that poor and ethnic minority students had been hammered:

Some schools and colleges have reported fifty percent or more of their students being downgrades, with black children affected several times more often than the proportion of the population they represent. Huge numbers of students have reported withdrawn university offers based on the downgrades.

Crime admitted

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson admitted that the downgrades had been applied selectively to children from poor backgrounds in case they found themselves promoted to ‘jobs beyond their competence’. It doesn’t seem to matter if rich children go beyond their competence. Just look at this government.

Williamson’s department also boasted that “Almost 60% of grades students received are exactly the same as those submitted by schools and colleges” – in other words, 40% weren’t – and admitted that the vast majority of those were downgraded.

Meanwhile, Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green’s ‘limp dishcloth’ performance on last night’s Newsnight came nowhere near to reflecting the justified outrage of parents and teachers.

The Tories have performed a naked smash and grab on the futures of our children – and are dancing off laughing down the street with the spoils, while telling the rest of us to be happy about it and still claiming they’re ‘levelling up’. And many people are predicting the impact on GCSE grades will be even worse.

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16 comments

  1. According to Starmer, EVERYONE knew of the problems for weeks and months. Which is rather strange, as he never raised it during those “forensic” PMQs, where we were assured by various posters and supporters of his that he was cleverly “laying traps” for Johnson. It’s beginning to look like we have two “leaders” [sic] who now wait until they see which way the crowd is running, then head to the front and shout “Follow me!”

    1. Well,you are being a little generous to both of them Joe,but you are correct in what you say.

  2. Many students, who did not achieve level 4/5 in their GCSES mock exams in late December early January, were working to improve those grades in 5-6 months before their real GCSES exams. The insane policy of both lockdown and also closing schools robbed them of that chance which is at a very crucial time in their lives. Hence the idiotic manner of making an assessment of their predicted grade rather the real thing was a tragedy which could effect their future prospects in career and in further qualifications.

    Not only has this one flew over the cuckoos nest policy of lockdown contracted the U.K. economy by over 20% thus increasing unemployment and de facto poverty, malnutrition plus homelessness but also by denying of teenagers the opportunity to sit a real exam potentially ruined the lives of the chances in life for many of them.

    1. There is nothing irrational about either closing schools or ‘lockdowns’. The irrationality is to be found among those claiming that the worst pandemic in a century is a conspiracy-of unknown origin- to wreck the capitalist economy and force people to wear masks.

      1. Fatalities number about 0.07% out of a UK population of about 66,500,000 hardly qualifies as a ” pandemic ” never mind the worst in over a century when approximately 25,000,000 deaths world wide from the misnamed Spanish flu which never mind trying to justify a economic contraction of over 20% the worst since the 1929 Wall Street crash. Wonder how many were taken in by the elusive WMD plus the dodgy dossier. Also named a ” conspiracy ” By the defenders of Blair plus Bush who pointed the gaping holes in the establishment ‘s narrative. As I recall 1,000,000 ” conspiracy theorists” took to the streets same as number as the Germans in Berlin did the other week against the ” pandemic “. They must be ” conspiracy theorists ” as well.

      2. “…wreck the capitalist economy..” It hasn’t appeared to wreck the banks, finance houses, stock market who got another whopping £242,000,000,000 in the form of QE to top up the £400,000,000,000 + they got from the QE sole out. As Warren Buffet said buy low sell high. Look like big business are going to do very nicely while the rest can go to hell in handcart because of a ” pandemic “.

  3. “They can sit the exams in September if they’re not happy – our children can’t – they’ll be in Tuscany.”

    Sick of being logged off WordPress all the time – and clicking on the W to log back in doesn’t work anymore.

    1. The assessed grades have already been issued which means those that are applying for A-Level courses, apprenticeships, college courses etc will be assessed on these results. For A-Level many sixth form colleges will not accept candidates unless they have a level 5 in English and the subject that they are studying. Many apprenticeships ( decent ones) require level 5 in Maths and English plus on a occasion Science. Many college courses will not accept a candidate unless they have a level 4. They can sit the exam in the Autumn if they are not happy with the predicted grades which an increasing number aren’t but they have missed between 5-6 months of face to face classroom based teaching. Zoom or Skype is no substitution.

  4. Algorithm Analysis once again proves the the British Conservatives are the most vile promoters of class war. They exist to fight class war, not to promote Conservative values.

  5. I agree brianbotou, shameful how students from less affluent backgrounds are been deprived of opportunities. What about allowing secondary school pupils, specially at GCSE level to retake the year by keeping them in schools? The lack of learning due to school closures is going to affect some of them for life by depriving them of opportunities to continue studying or good quality training schemes.

  6. Cheap and nasty Tory party eugenics, their way of restricting competition for future Rees Mogg’s

  7. Should the LP ever open again then I suspect we’ll have much to discuss, and the fascists in the LP much to defend. I doubt it will open again in many areas, ruling by decree suits them, as they know that they can’t win the debate on practically any of the current issues.

  8. Six A-level students have officially launched legal action against the “insane” marking system that reduced 39% of grades this year.

    They issued a letter kick-starting a High Court fight to exams regulator Ofqual today, after thousands of students were left devastated by Thursday’s results.

    The six students represented by the Good Law Project include Michael, the son of a security guard and carer whose BBB predicted grades plunged to EEE due to a “standardisation” process.
    https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/level-students-officially-launch-high-22529751

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