The Student Room’s open letter on behalf of students

Students need a voice

Open letter published 17 August 2020 in response to the government’s A-Level grade calculations announcement

View the original letter and thread on The Student Room with student responses

Following the announcement from the governments across the UK this afternoon that Centre Assessed Grades (CAGs) will be used instead of the original calculated grades. We write this letter on behalf of students who have faced constant change, upset and upheaval while awaiting their exam grades in 2020. We will amplify their voices loud and clear. We will do everything we can to ensure they get the support and answers they deserve.

The grading scandal of 2020 has culminated with a scattergun series of misfired announcements, an A-level results day where even Ofqual didn’t know about the appeals process, and a situation where GCSE students are dealing with another last-minute announcement about their future and there are still so many unknowns for students, including BTECs, year 10s, year 12s and private candidates.

On top of which, we are yet to see any commitment to dedicated support of students’ mental health and wellbeing – neither in general terms, nor for students who have been negatively impacted by the calculated grades process.

We are calling for key decision makers to put students first, where they belong.

Now the government has committed to a u-turn on exam calculations, we are seeing relief, but coupled with serious confusion. In the hour following the announcement we saw hundreds of comments on our official thread, and numerous questions within the first 20 minutes:

So like, how can I appeal my CAG because I got given B when I never got less than A before?

Does anyone think will affect the October exams? …Or Ofqual might just scrap the exams all together?

This decision isn’t designed to help us, it’s designed to get everybody to shut up and stop complaining. You can appeal on the grounds of teacher bias, but you won’t succeed.

But now Universities will be oversubscribed?

We also acknowledge that those important pillars who usually provide students with essential guidance and support, have also not been given the information they need in order to do so.

From Ofqual scrambling to pull together a mock appeals process after Education Minister, Gavin Williamson’s, late night announcement, seemingly with a complete lack of consultation with educational experts or students themselves; to UCAS who had no prior warning about the changes; to the universities who were unable to respond to thousands of students; to teachers and parents.

There is no better example of this than today’s announcement, where, as far as we’re aware, no universities, schools or colleges have been given any information to support their students around another change in advance. We are yet again unable to see how decision-makers are working with those who are most directly affected, the students, who face potentially changing their path without nearly enough clarity and practical guidance.

We work closely with organisations in the education sector by sharing students’ experiences and voices. A key part of this relationship is also to share the information these organisations give us with students to provide much-needed guidance.

With today’s announcements, we know The Student Room is needed by students more than ever.

Standing alongside students, we call for:

  1. Urgent clarity regarding grading in 2020 for all students (including impact on BTEC students and private candidates)
  2. Urgent clarity for students with or without uni places in 2020
  3. Urgent clarifications regarding ramifications for Year 12s and Year 10s
  4. Urgent dedicated support for the mental health and wellbeing of students who have been negatively impacted by the grading scandal in 2020

At The Student Room, we demand that the voice of the young people impacted by these decisions are heard. We demand that students are consulted on reforms that impact their futures and crucially, we want to be part of the solution.

As such, we desire to work with Government bodies, exams boards and education providers to ensure that the student voice is at the heart of future policy decisions.


The Student Room

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