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Pressure mounts on UK government over exam results appeals process

Students have been protesting in the UK over downgraded exam results and confusing information about how to appeal the results.

The UK government decided to cancel GCSE and A-level exams necessary for college admissions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

But nearly 40% of the A-level results were downgraded from teacher predictions by a computer algorithm set in place to make the exams more standardised in what has turned into a scandal for exam regulator Ofqual.

“The grades students received are based on the judgement of their school or college, and have been moderated by exam boards to make sure the same standard is applied to all students,” wrote Nick Gibb, minister of state for school standards. He added that students could appeal based on a mock exam or an exam taken in the autumn.

But on Saturday, Ofqual pulled newly-published appeal information stating that the policy on how to appeal results was being reviewed.

“Earlier today we published information about mock exam results in appeals. This policy is being reviewed by the Ofqual Board and further information will be published in due course,” Ofqual stated.

Conservative MP Robert Halfon called the change “farcical” while Simon Hoare, also a conservative, said the statement was “beyond a joke.”

“This now smacks of naive incompetence. Hope the Education Select Committee will be ruthless in its scrutiny,” Hoare tweeted.

Olivia Styles, 18, who received lower grades than what her teachers projected, burnt her results before a crowd in London.

“By burning them, it’s sort of saying I don’t accept these results. These are not what I wanted, these are not what I deserved,” she said, according to AP. “I want the results I’ve worked hard for over the past two years. I don’t want this piece of paper to define me as a person.”

Labour leader Keir Starmer criticised “weeks of chaos, confusion and incompetence.”

“We need a return to teacher assessments for A-level results and urgent action to avoid the same injustice for GCSE students. Boris Johnson has been invisible during this crisis. He needs to take personal responsibility, and fix it,” Starmer tweeted.

The results for GSCE exams – taken by 16-year-olds – are due to be released next week.

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