Michael Portillo hit out at the Department of Education for failing to prepare appropriately to address the exam issues the coronavirus pandemic would cause. Mr Portillo insisted the appeal system would need to work perfectly to ensure students are able to move on to university in spite of the “wrong” predictive model the Government adopted for A-level and BTEC results. Speaking to Times Radio, the former Conservative MP said: “I was talking to a headteacher who has run a school for more than 10 years and in 10 years, at A-level, had no students achieve only a U, an unclassified.
“On this predictive model, she’s been given nine Us after ten years of not producing one single unclassified result.
“That clearly is absolutely wrong and I’m talking there of a school that has many social challenges but the idea that outstanding pupils should be dragged down by the reputation of their schools, is absolutely bizarre and wrong. Let us hope the appeal system can somehow fix it.”
Mr Portillo suggested the Government had failed to prepare for the potential chaos despite having months to set out a working system to ensure leavers could receive the necessary academic requirements after exams were cancelled during the lockdown.
He continued: “There was going to have to be an element of prediction in all of this but it looks as though the Government has just been taken by surprise by the scale of the problem.
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“It has come up with a system which I think is quite difficult to understand.
“To hear that students have been dragged down by an algorithm or a statistical model by their schools, irrespective of their own merits, is just so appalling.
“Any Government that can see that coming really should have taken steps to avoid it. Let’s hope the appeal system is going to put that right.”
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson apologised for the confusion on Wednesday and announced the creation of a triple lock – allowing students to either accept their results, go back to their mock exams result or take a test in the autumn – to ensure students do not miss out.
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The backlash quickly erupted into calls for the resignation of the Education Secretary.
One Twitter user said: “Gavin Williamson MUST resign over the chaos in England surrounding exams, I expect @Keir_Starmer to lodge a motion of no confidence, backed by @LabourRichard and @ScotTories.”
Another wrote: “Unqualified Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has failed a generation of students…and is spreading untruths about the virus safety of English classrooms for a younger generation. He MUST resign now!”
And another said: “Gavin williamson is sorry if kids are disappointed. He is not sorry he got it wrong. That is not a proper apology in my book. He should resign.”