Currently 42.2% of A Level grades are less than predicted by teacher assessment. However, Wales had maintained a much firmer link between AS examinations and A Level. This allowed the Welsh Government to guarantee that no pupil will receive an A Level grade lower than that which they had previously attained in the AS Examination in 2019. This gives pupils some confidence. But it is not enough. It will not help when the GCSE results come through next week. It also puts too much emphasis on computer algorithms based on previous school performance – especially in subjects (like art and technology) that formerly used real people to examine the work of real pupils.
Previous school performance discriminates against pupils in working class areas, where staffing is more erratic, where class sizes may be small and variable and where inexperienced teachers may not have the support necessary for accurate moderation. This situation adds to the stress that many young people are having to contend with these days and like everything else, it impacts most on the most disadvantaged.
Perhaps one solution is to end the reliance of universities and colleges on examination results that themselves are class biased. Why not rely more on portfolios of work and let students have a chance to show what they can do, with good pastoral and academic support. It would cost a little more – especially if student fees were abolished at the same time – but the future of young people and the enhanced academic and research future of the country would benefit enormously and amply repay the costs.