Levels 2020: How are results different this year?

Clay Curtis
August 13, 2020

The figures, published by the Joint Council for Qualifications, cover A-level entries from students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland where around 300,000 students are receiving their results.

You may have an older brother or sister who have been to get theirs.

This summer's exams were scratched by the government in March owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

Students in Scotland had complained that the moderation process gave unfair weighting to the historical performance of the school and local area, disproportionately affecting poor students.

In Northern Ireland, the CCEA exams board has already said that without standardisation of teachers' predicted grades, the proportion achieving A*-A this year would have jumped to more than 40 per cent.

There have been arguments about how estimated grades have been calculated in the absence of exams - with the two biggest factors being the ranking order of pupils and previous results at their school.

One headteacher at a Sixth Form College told The Guardian he felt "shock, anger, dismay, disbelief" after seeing results downgraded.

Unlike in England, where AS levels were axed under a series of reforms to "toughen up" A-levels, they remain in place in Wales meaning they can be relied on as an indicator of a pupil's performance in exam conditions.

This means students in England unhappy with their grades now have the opportunity to appeal their grade, resit their exams in autumn or use their mock grades instead.

The minister also confirmed that "all appeals will be free for Welsh students, to ensure there is no financial barrier to ensure learners feel their exam grades are fair".

No new cases of Covid-19 in Carlow or Kilkenny
Forty new COVID-19 cases have been confirmed today and one further death has been announced. There were 40 new cases confirmed today, Wednesday August 12, notified to the HPSC.

Swinney on Tuesday bowed to pressure and announced that more than 70,000 Scottish pupils would have their results restored to their teachers' original assessments.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the teaching union Association of School and College Leaders, said the plan creates potential for "massive inconsistency" because practice exams are not standardized and can vary hugely in how they are administered.

Suzanne Whitton, of Wokingham, in Berkshire, whose daughter Holly, 18, is awaiting A-level results, dubbed Mr Williamson's policy a "knee-jerk, panic reaction, by a government who has watched Scotland's fiasco unfurl".

Gavin Williamson said that if teachers' predictions were awarded to pupils unaltered, grades would "shoot up" and the qualifications would be "devalued".

Past performances of both pupils and schools were used in the moderation process, but once again, some were anxious this could have a negative impact on disadvantaged students.

The Welsh education minister Kirsty Williams pledged to introduce a "safety net" whereby students would not get a lower A-level grade than their AS mark.

For students hoping for university places, it is expected to be a "buyer's market", with the admissions service Ucas saying universities would be "super-flexible" even for those who have missed grades.

These have been moderated by the country's exam board, CCEA to ensure final grades are in line with previous years.

She tweeted: "Congrats to those getting results today".

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