Teachers and students protesting over A-level results in England have called on Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to resign and said it was “too late” for apologies.
Dozens of people attended a protest in Millennium Square, Leeds, on Tuesday afternoon to voice their anger over the downgrading of thousands of A-level results.
Students told the crowd how their lives had been put on hold and said they no longer knew if they would be able to go to university, despite the Government’s U-turn on Monday when it said students would be able to receive grades based on their teachers’ estimates.
The protest was co-organised by James Fishwick, a 19-year-old history student at the University of Bristol, who called on the Education Secretary to step down.
Mr Fishwick said: “Hopefully we can move forward now and make sure Gavin Williamson is resigned from his position as Secretary of State for Education because frankly he’s been a failure in his department, he has no authority, no credibility and he needs to leave.
“It’s a bit too late for apologies. People have had their lives upturned by this, people have been in five days of turmoil.”
Sam Kirk, a science teacher at a school in Leeds, spoke to the crowd – who held signs that read “Five days too late” and “Gavin get gone” – and encouraged the group to chant “Gav must go”.
She said: “He has ruined so many lives. It’s an absolute travesty for him to continue in his role. He’s still in post and thinks he can get away with a mealy-mouthed apology. It’s not good enough, you have to resign.”
Ms Kirk added: “There are young people who feel like their lives have been ruined and for an education secretary to think that an apology for this catastrophe – the worst education catastrophe that I can ever remember – how he can stay in post I just don’t know.
“He doesn’t have the trust of students, he doesn’t have the trust of educators, after presiding over such a terrible decision that he knew was coming.”
Olivia Hullah, who studied at Heckmondwike Grammar School, told the crowd that she had been rejected by both of her university choices due to her grades being downgraded.
The 18-year-old said: “Because of the Tory Government decision to use a computer algorithm, I have to put my life on hold for a year. This is a real experience and real people are dealing with these problems.”
Olivia added: “I think Gavin Williamson can apologise but there’s been no action. He should apologise and resign. He’s made a big mistake. The reason I’m not going to university this year is because of him.”
Pupils from Greenhead College in Huddersfield said they were “lucky” to have the grades they needed to go to university this year but said their success was “bittersweet”.
Yolan Noszkay, 18, said: “I think it’s really important to show that we’ve got each other’s backs when the people who are supposed to be leading us and giving us hope for the future don’t.
“I think sorry at this point isn’t good enough, it shouldn’t have happened in the first place.”
Sasha Glendinning, 18, said she was “angry” at how the situation had been handled and said she believed Mr Williamson’s apology was “too little too late”.