Boris Johnson is facing a growing revolt from his own Conservative MPs over the A-level results crisis.
Government ministers Penny Mordaunt and Johnny Mercer are among the MPs to have called for a U-turn as pupils and teachers continued to protest about the results awarded last week.
A number of senior backbench Tories also demanded Number 10 resolves the “shambles” after about 40% of A-level results were downgraded as a result of exam regulator Ofqual’s algorithm.
It comes amid reports there will be an announcement from education secretary Gavin Williamson later on Monday.
And the government did not rule out a U-turn that would see grades based on teacher assessments rather than the algorithm, which led to thousands of students getting lower-than-expected grades after exams were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
When asked specifically if a U-turn is a possibility, a Number 10 spokesman said: “We will continue to work hard to come up with the fairest system possible for pupils.”
It came after Mordaunt, the paymaster general and a Cabinet Office minister, said she was seeking a meeting with Department for Education officials, writing on Twitter: “This group of young people have lost out on so much already, we must ensure that bright, capable students can progress on their next step.”
Defence minister Mercer, meanwhile, told constituents in a post on the “young people in Plymouth” Facebook page: “I do not believe this is the end of the story – there are too many clear injustices.”
Former minister Tracey Crouch said results should be reverted back to teacher-assessed grades because the Ofqual algorithm is “flawed”.
She said: “Some think that this would lead to over-inflation – and yes it might – but having spoken to a school head this morning I am confident that most schools have quality-checking processes that would mean very few would be inflated, and if they were, given the world we are currently in, so what?”
GCSE exams will also be graded in the same way.
Ahead of results day on Thursday, Crouch also warned: “If we are going to make the changes, we need to do so today.”
Stephen Hammond, another former minister, labelled the row a “shambles” and said delaying the release of GCSE results on Thursday is “probably is the right thing to do”.
However, Number 10 subsequently stated: “We will not be delaying GCSE results.”
More than 25 Tory MPs had spoken out as of 1pm on Monday.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer also went on the attack.
Posting a party video contrasting footage of Johnson promising young people a “superb education” with A-level students speaking of their devastation after receiving downgraded results, Starmer said the prime minister “is watching from the sidelines while a generation of young people are being robbed of their future”.
Boris Johnson is watching from the sidelines while a generation of young people are being robbed of their future. pic.twitter.com/FSQKr2sEOy— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) August 17, 2020
Shadow education secretary Kate Green added: “The injustice and chaos surrounding A-level and GCSE results must come to an end.”
Johnson is currently on holiday in Scotland.