Boris breaks cover – on Twitter – from Scots holiday amid exams furore

Boris breaks cover… on Twitter: PM sends students message of support online as he hides on Scottish holiday as he becomes the only Prime Minister in recent history to not release a picture of his vacation

  • The Prime Minister has not been seen since heading to Scotland on Monday 
  • He is resisting calls to take control of exams crisis engulfing A-Levels and GCSEs 
  • He issued a short message to GCSE students receiving results today 
  • There was no apology or mention of the chaos and it was met with fury

Boris Johnson took a pasting on social media after he finally broke his silence over the English exams chaos – with two short tweets.

The Prime Minister has not been seen since heading to Scotland for a week’s holiday on Monday in the middle of chaos over A-Level grades. 

He has so far resisted widespread calls for him to cut short his break to take control of the public confidence crisis from beleaguered Education Secretary Gavin Williamson.  

He issued a short message to GCSE students receiving results today – based on predicted grades after a ‘standardisation’ algorithm was abandoned amid claims it was biased against high achieving pupils from poorer backgrounds.

He wrote: ‘Congratulations to everyone receiving their GCSE results today. I know the last few months have been tough and this isn’t how you imagined you would be finishing Year 11, but you can be proud of how you helped to keep the virus under control.  

‘You have literally saved lives through staying at home and keeping distance from others. Thank you for protecting yourselves, your families and your communities this year. And once again – congratulations and well done!’

There was no apology or mention of the chaos that has accompanied this year’s exam results. And the message was greeted with disdain by social media users.

It has emerged that there are no plans to issue a photograph of the PM and his family on their holiday, a tradition followed by his predecessors. 

The Prime Minister has not been seen since heading to Scotland for a week’s holiday on Monday in the middle of chaos over A-Level grades

There was no apology or mention of the chaos that has accompanied this year’s exam results. And the message was greeted with disdain by social media users

Mark Berry wrote: ‘Great that so many have passed despite the failures of this Government who have been too focused on awarding contracts to their friends and donors instead of doing their jobs properly!’

A record high proportion of GCSE entries in England were today awarded the equivalent of A* or As after a Government U-turn meant results could be based on teachers’ estimated grades amid cancelled exams.

Hundreds of thousands of youngsters received their results at 8am this morning following major changes – but around 200,000 Btec pupils will not get their final results following a last-minute review of grades.

More than one in four (25.9 per cent) GCSE entries in England scored one of the three top grades of 7 to 9 this year, up from just over a fifth (20.7 per cent) last summer, figures from exams regulator Ofqual show.

The surge comes after Education Secretary Gavin Williamson scrapped the controversial algorithm system for both A-level and GCSE results following a mass outcry from students and parents – and conceded teachers’ predicted grades must be used to mark pupils who could not sit their exams because of the pandemic.

The proportion receiving the top grades – at least a 7 or an A grade – is a record high based on available data following the decision to award grades based on teachers’ assessments, rather than an algorithm. It also raises the prospect of a record number of students going on to do A-levels at colleges and sixth forms.

The subject with the highest proportion of pupils gaining a 7 to 9 grade was classics at 74.6 per cent, followed by modern languages other than French, German and Spanish, and triple science (biology, chemistry and physics) at 53 per cent.

More than three in four (76 per cent) entries were awarded at least a 4 or a C grade in England this summer, which is up 8.9 percentage points on last year when 67.1 per cent achieved the grades.

It comes after GCSE and A-level students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland were told they would now be awarded the higher of either their teachers’ grade or the moderated grade following an outcry.

The great exams fiasco continues: 450,000 BTEC students must wait a WEEK for grades after exam board Pearson axed results at ‘nearly the 12th hour’ despite warnings of ‘systemic issues’ with algorithm a week ago

Almost 500,000 BTEC students will have to wait another week to get their grades after the exam board axed results hours before they were due to be released today.

Pearson, the provider of BTECs, yesterday told schools and colleges not to publish results in the vocational qualifications to give them time to re-grade them in line with A-levels and GCSEs – which are now being graded via teacher assessments. 

This means that students face another week waiting for their BTEC grades – including 250,000 who received ‘downgrades’ marks last week for their A-level equivalent exams.  

The 11th hour move last night came despite Pearson being warned a week ago about a ‘systemic issue’ with grading, it was claimed today. 

The parent of one BTEC student said the decision to withhold final grades has left his son feeling like a ‘second-class student’. 

Caleb Taylor, 19, is waiting for the results of his level three Btec in computing and business.

His father, Richard, said he has been unable to enrol at his college in Gwent for next year without knowing his final grades.

He said: ‘I think it’s a disgrace. He feels like he is a second-class student, and Btecs are seen as less important than A-levels because they have been sorted out last.

‘Technical qualifications shouldn’t be seen as less than. My son is really anxious because he doesn’t know what he will be doing next year.

‘He plans to go to university but it is a good thing he didn’t want to go this year because he would have missed out on his space.

‘There has just been no communication, we just don’t know what is going on.’

This morning, David Hughes, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘We’d been talking to Pearson ever since the results came out last Thursday and we knew there were lots and lots of problems, lots of students not getting the results they really should have got, lots of colleges saying to us that actually this just doesn’t look right, and we were saying to Pearson ‘is this just isolated cases or is it a more systemic issue’?

‘I think what they’ve realised is that both the level three results last week, but perhaps more importantly for the results that were due today, that this was a system issue and they really needed to do a thorough review.’    

Exam board Pearson has pulled its BTEC results less than 24 hours before releasing them, sparking a fresh round of results chaos for nearly half a million pupils (stock)

BBC Radio 4 was told by Bexleyheath Academy in South East London that some results papers give both grades on the same piece of paper – so the principal is giving out BTEC grades today because there are on the same piece of paper as the GCSEs.

Schools minister Nick Gibb today told Sky News that BTEC results were being reviewed and they will be ‘they’ll be reissuing them hopefully next week’.  

The National Education Union’s co-general secretary said the Government now ‘must put an end’ to the ‘incompetence’ around the issuing of the Btec results. 

Dr Mary Bousted said: ‘Teachers know their students better than any model or algorithm and it will be a relief to many that the grades they receive are now a fairer reflection of their achievements.

‘To add to the GCSE and A-level fiasco, the decision by (examiner) Pearson not to issue Btec results at the eleventh hour compounds the upsetting and chaotic experience for students.

‘Government must put an end to this incompetence and work quickly to ensure every young person gets the grades they deserve to move on to the next stages of their lives.’

The development will also cause even further disruption to students seeking places in higher education, with universities under pressure from thousands of pupils scrambling to get their first choices after the U-turn led to improved grades. 

Mr Hughes added: ‘This is a decision that is kind of the result of lots and lots of poor decisions over many weeks.

‘One thing we’ve got to do I think in the fullness of time is a full review, independent review, open and transparent into what went wrong, not to blame people, but really to understand what’s happened, because confidence in the system has been completely blown.

‘Ofqual wanted integrity in the system to be at the heart of all this, and I think that’s the last thing that’s been achieved. So the decision by Pearson last night, really late in the day, 11th hour, almost the 12th, hour was probably the right decision, just a shame it came so late.

Pearson, the provider of BTECs, told schools and colleges not to publish level 1 and 2 results in the vocational qualifications to give them time to re-grade them in line with A-levels and GCSEs – which are being graded via teacher assessments (stock)

‘But sometimes it is better to make the right decision rather than carry on and get very, very unfair outcomes for students.’

Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: ‘I think it’s utterly outrageous, it’s chaos after chaos now and at the end of this are young people psyching themselves up to receive their results, wanting to plan their futures for the next step in their studies and being let down again and again by the Government. 

‘And now to hear that not only the results that were due today are delayed until we don’t know when but some of the results received last week might have to be reviewed and adjusted, and still don’t know what they should do next. I think it’s absolutely shameful, they are in the middle of a fiasco no way of their making.’

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