‘Incensed’ school head accuses Gavin Williamson of ignoring teachers’ judgment

Support us and go ad-free

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has been angrily accused by a school head of ignoring the professional judgment of teachers over their students’ A-level results.

Williamson was confronted by Christine Cunniffe, the principal of LVS Ascot, during an uncomfortable appearance on ITV’s This Morning.

Cunniffe said she had seen some of her top students downgraded by two grades as a result of the system put in place by the government for moderating exam results in England.

She urged the education secretary to follow the example of Scotland and abandon the system, saying students had “been through enough”.

However, Williamson said that without “checks and balances” to ensure consistency across the country, some schools would simply have assessed all their pupils as achieving the top grades.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

Cunniffe said there was no longer a “level playing field” across the UK and demanded to know how Williamson could justify the system for awarding results after the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic meant actual exams had to be cancelled.

She said she was “quite incensed” that some students would not now be able to go to the university of their choice.

“I have seen some of our students go down two grades where they are at the top of the school. So there are inconsistencies,” she said.

“Is this really the right time for checks and balances when we don’t know what they are? They have been through enough, let them move on.

“We as professionals have given those grades in good faith, been very robust, and we have followed the consultation to a tee.”

Williamson said the government had put in a “robust” appeals system for those students who were unhappy with their results but that it was essential to ensure there was consistency across the country.

“As a father myself, as someone who always does the absolute best for all the children right across the country, it is about trying to put as much fairness into the system as possible,” he said.

“If you effectively rip up a whole book and say you are not having standards, not having the same sort of consistency, you will have had some schools who would have literally put in every child as either an A or an A* or a B.”

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us
  • Show Comments
    1. All the major teaching unions however, supported and endorsed this approach. Hence the relative silence from them whilst they figure out how to backpedal out of this.
      The NEU said this in April….. “We are pleased that the Department for Education and Ofqual both recognise the professionalism of teachers… In any qualification system, but particularly one created in these circumstances, it helps with consistency and fairness to have moderation and oversight from the regulator.”

    2. Teacher’s judgments should be ignored – every year for the past 30-40 years an average of around 40% of all predicted grades are over-predicted – so moderation was just rectifying this over-prediction to account for this

    3. so for all those wanting to defer to teachers professional judgment – sorry evidence show it is not very good. Plus we are one of the few countries in the world (if not the only one) that uses predicted grades for admission to university – rather than actual grades obtained

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.