A-level students take legal action against Ofqual as 200,000 sign online petition

George Martin
·2-min read
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 14, 2020: Protest outside the Department for Education after students affected by the mass downgrading of A-level results in England  - PHOTOGRAPH BY Matthew Chattle / Barcroft Studios / Future Publishing (Photo credit should read Matthew Chattle/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
A protest outside the Department for Education earlier this week. (Getty)

A-level students have launched legal action against England’s exam regulator Ofqual over what they describe as a “ridiculous and insane” marking system.

Thousands of teenagers were left angered after almost 40% of predicted grades were downgraded by the regulator’s “moderation” algorithm, leaving many missing out on their first choice universities.

Ofqual issued guidance on Saturday setting out the criteria for students to make appeals on the basis of their mock exam results, only for it to be taken down hours later.

In a brief statement, Ofqual said the policy was "being reviewed" by its board and that further information would be released "in due course".

SWANSEA, WALES - AUGUST 13: Ujair Abdullah wears a blue surgical face mask while looking at his A Level results at Ffynone House School on August 13, 2020 in Swansea, Wales. Thousands of students in Wales receive their A-level grades today, amid major last minute changes to results which will see pupils promised the grades awarded to them will not be lower than their earlier AS results. Exams were cancelled due to coronavirus with grades being calculated using teachers' estimates and a formula to standardise results across schools. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
A student receives his A Level results on Thursday. (Getty)

The Good Law Project is now supporting six students over a judicial review of Ofqual’s “failings”.

Data from Ofqual shows independent schools saw an increase of 4.7% in the number of students securing A or A* grades from 2019, compared to 2% for state schools and just 0.3 percentage points for further education colleges.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson last week gave a "triple-lock" commitment that students could use the highest result out of their teacher's predicted grade, their mock exam or sitting an actual exam in the autumn.

However, the Ofqual guidance said that if the mock result was higher than the teacher's prediction, it was the teacher's prediction that would count.

The Good Law Project’s crowdfunding bid to cover legal costs has reached more than £41,000.

Jolyon Maugham, director of the Good Law Project, said: “If you don’t go to a successful school you don’t deserve to succeed either – strip away all the science and that’s what’s delivered by the system Ofqual and Gavin Williamson have put in place.

“It’s not fair, it’s not good enough, and hard-working students should not have to stand for it.”

It comes as more than 200,000 people have signed an online petition demanding the government takes action over the A-level results.

The Change.org petition wants all students receiving grades this year to be given those predicted by teachers.

“We call on Boris Johnson to intervene now and stop this,” the petition reads.

“No school is going to set a child up for something they cannot achieve, that would be senseless.

“Uni places already hang in the balance. The govt has already u-turned on the date results will be available and children’s mental health is suffering.”