Teenagers taking legal action against Ofqual amid A-level results anger

The Canary

A-level students who feel let down by a “ridiculous and insane” marking system are launching legal action against England’s exam regulator Ofqual.

Thousands of teenagers were left angered after almost 40% of predicted grades were downgraded by the regulator’s “moderation” algorithm, leaving many missing out on their first-choice universities.

“The Government is playing politics with our futures”

Student Curtis Parfitt-Ford has launched a legal bid against Ofqual to “force them to come up with a fairer system”.

Despite getting the grades he was predicted, he said he couldn’t stand by and watch his friends and cohort “getting the grades they don’t deserve”, which in turn made his grades meaningless.

His crowdfunding page has amassed more than £15,000 in donations in less than two days. He’s being represented by a legal team with lawyers from Leigh Day and Foxglove.

The 18-year-old from Ealing, west London, told PA news agency:

The Government is playing politics with our futures…

Whatever happens this is going to affect thousands of students.

In a 22-page letter to Ofqual, Parfitt-Ford’s legal team described the model used to determine grades as “irrational, arbitrary, fails to take account of relevant considerations” and claimed it was unlawful.

Students hold protest
Students wearing face masks take part in a protest in Westminster (Victoria Jones/PA)

Appeals process suspended

On Saturday 16 August, just hours after it published its criteria for appeals based on mock exam results, Ofqual said the policy was “being reviewed” by its board and that further information would be released “in due course”.

This latest turn of events has been met with confusion and dismay among students and families. Parfitt-Ford described the now-suspended appeals process as “ridiculous and insane”, but said he was glad that it was being reviewed. He added:

I wish they did it before releasing the policy in the first place.

We are desperately trying to get clarity, with GCSE results due we fear this could potentially become even more chaotic, we are desperately hoping the Government will make a U-turn by then.

We are not going to stand by and watch as potentially millions of GCSE students’ futures are affected by this.

Judicial review

Meanwhile, the Good Law Project is supporting six students over a judicial review of Ofqual’s “failings”. Data from Ofqual shows independent schools saw an increase of 4.7% in the number of students securing A or A* grades from 2019, compared to 2% for state schools and just 0.3 percentage points for further education colleges.

One of the students taking legal action, whose name was given as Michael, saw his grades fall from a predicted BBB to EEE, which left him “disheartened”. Michael said:

Teachers are entrusted with the task of predicting students’ grades and considering they are in a far better position to determine what level students are working at, it is abysmal to think that the Government, whose job it is to lead this country in the right direction, has allowed an algorithm to determine the futures of thousands of students.

This injustice cannot and should not stand, and we are urging the Government to rethink this decision.

The Good Law Project’s crowdfunding bid to cover legal costs has reached more than £41,000.

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  • Show Comments
    1. This absurd mathematical algorithm designed with its seemingly despicable elitist intent to differentiate ‘the good from the bad’ makes of public school students the elite winners who keep on winning. And, this time they’ve won even more glittering top-of-the-pile plaudits with exam outcomes thanks to a Tory algorithm. While, state school students, where even if many through socio-economic circumstance are the sink estate and social-housing losers as usual through no fault of their own, have lost even more – in some instances with intolerable downgrading of their exam results. This time around during added horrendous Covid times witnesses state school’s having their downgraded results justified by ‘outrageous mathematics’ – being an algorithm that has to have been dreamed up, surely, by some grey grubby nondescript ‘mathematical genius’ of a government department stooge who’s ‘good at numbers’? There couldn’t be a more elitist mathematical model rubber-stamping exam outcomes that has separated out with stark algorithmic indifferent robotic means the disparity between our UK society’s ‘young haves’ and ‘young have nots’.

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