Examinations: why a 're-take' was the right option

It’s all rather unfortunate, this is not a week when the Government has covered itself in glory over the A-level results algorithm reducing 40% of grades, and their subsequent ‘re-sit’ when they didn’t get the results they wanted.

At least the DfE did the right thing and ditched the approach, faced with a situation where thousands of students, through no fault of their own, had received results below their predicted grades.

It is sometimes the case that in trying to do the right thing, you achieve the polar opposite to your initial objective. We all understand why the initial algorithm was proposed, to ensure standardisation of grades across schools and prevent ‘grade inflation’, but no one was prepared for the impact. That was a huge miscalculation and the Government has admitted as much.

What we’ve got now, which relies on teacher assessment, is fairer for students, families, and also for students awaiting their GCSE results, due tomorrow.

It’s obviously not without some consequences.

We appreciate the decision to change does come with further complications, not least for those unable to take up first choice university places. Essex’s schools have been doing a fantastic job guiding and supporting students through the options available.

Learning from the experience when things don’t go well is important. This generation of young people have demonstrated real resilience in the circumstances and at the risk of looking too hard for a silver lining amongst the clouds, this is a characteristic that can serve them well in future.

If young people need further support around employment and apprenticeships, rather than university education, it is available from the Essex Youth Service from Thursday 20 August onwards. They can be contacted on 0800 707 6384 and details of their Get Sorted! events will be available on that number as well.

I’ve been really proud of how the County Council has worked with schools and colleges in Essex, and how schools and colleges have responded so brilliantly to the demands of the pandemic. That work continues, and as difficult as the last week has been, I know that Essex’s schools will continue the brilliant work as we head toward a safe return to classroom in September.