GCSE and A-Level latest news: School results out tomorrow as Durham university offers money for students to defer – LIVE

Millions of nervous youngsters will find out tomorrow how they fared in their GCSEs this year.

Students have been told their results will come on time on Thursday, despite fears that the chaos caused by a recent u-turn will cause delays.

Earlier this week, the Government rowed back on its decision to generate grades by computers, instead grading youngsters through teachers' predicted.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson reportedly offered to resign following the fallout over the results day fiasco, but the Prime Minister is believed to have refused it.

It comes amid warnings from experts that poorer children are nearly twice as likely to fail English and maths GCSEs than more wealthy classmates.

Meanwhile, the fiasco has left universities in chaos over places with Durham the latest to ask students to defer until next year – and will even offer bursaries and money off their course to do so.

Follow our GCSE and A-level live blog for all the latest news and updates…

  • UCAS RECEIVES NEW GRADES FROM 160,000 STUDENTS

    UCAS has received the grades of 160,000 A-Level students who formerly had their results downgraded by the exam algorithm.

    Of the 160,000, over 15,000 were originally rejected by their first choice institution- but now have met their offers.

  • PEARSONS TELL SCHOOLS TO 'NOT GIVE OUT BTEC RESULTS TOMORROW'

    Pearsons – the body who administers BTEC qualifications – has emailed schools and colleges telling them to not give out L1 and L2 results tomorrow, following the Ofqual ruling that BTECs will be treated the same way as A-Levels.

    As the qualifications are set to follow the centre assessment grades for internal units, the body say they need to review and “apply consistency” across teacher assessed grades.

    The email read: “Our priority is to ensure fair outcomes for BTEC students in relation to A-Levels and GCSEs and that no BTEC student is disadvantaged.

    “We ask schools and colleges not to issue any BTEC L1 and L2 results tomorrow as these will be reviewed and where appropriate, regraded.”

  • GAVIN WILLIAMSON 'ON HIS LAST LIFE' AFTER EXAMS FIASCO

    Gavin Williamson is ‘on his last life’ and will be swiftly sacked if schools reopening is botched, Cabinet colleagues believe.

    The embattled Education Secretary has defied calls to quit from opposition parties following the A-Level grading scandal, but No10 does not dispute Mr Williamson offered to fall on his sword.

    But ministers and MPs have told The Sun he would not be able to survive another scandal next month if he blunders Mr Johnson’s flagship pledge to reopen schools.

    And senior Tories reject claims Mr Johnson is protecting the former Chief Whip – who helped organise the PM's successful takeover of the party – amid fears he “not only buried all the bodies but still has the shovel”.

    Read our full report here.

  • UNLAWFUL COMPUTERS

    Ofqual's controversial exam results algorithm was unlawful, shadow attorney general Lord Falconer of Thoroton has said.

    In a joint letter with shadow education secretary Kate Green to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson and chief regulator of Ofqual Sally Collier, Labour peer Lord Falconer argues that ministers and Ofqual would have been aware of at least three breaches of the law in the standardisation formula used.

    The letter states: “If the system involves in essence no more than the teachers putting their students in order and then an algorithm assigning grades to the students based principally on the grades students in previous years in that institution achieved, it does not accurately reflect that student's level of knowledge skill and understanding.”

    He added:“This is clearly not in compliance with objective one, and therefore cannot allow for a proper comparison with other boards or years, because there is no proper assessment of this years' students.”

    It continues: “Separately it is inherently unfair not to have any right of appeal against the grade awarded, beyond errors of application in the system.

    “They should have the right to complain they were wrongly graded on the merits. The decision is so important to their life chances. That is a second unlawfulness.”

  • ASPIRING MEDICS TO STILL MISS PLACES AT UNI

    Aspiring medical students could still lose out on places at University this year, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has admitted.

    Matt Hancock pledged the Government would do “everything we can” to find places for would-be doctors but admitted it could not be guaranteed.

    It comes after an u-turn on exam results earlier this week saw students who had their results downgraded that they would be awarded the grade predicted for them by their teacher.

    But the delay in making the change means many pupils, whose downgraded results didn’t match the offers made to them by their universities, lost out on a place.

    Mr Hancock claimed that he is “absolutely looking at” lifting the cap on the number of places to study medicine, which is currently regulated to help the NHS for the future of the workforce.

  • CLASS DIVIDE BETWEEN PUPILS SHOWS KIDS MUST GO BACK TO SCHOOL

    The gaping chasm between rich and poor pupils passing key GCSEs shows exactly why children MUST go back to school come September — and stay there throughout the academic year.

    A devastating report from experts at charity Teach First reveals that in 2019 — before the pandemic hit — just 45 per cent of disadvantaged kids passed their maths and English GCSEs compared to 72 per cent of their richer classmates.

    Even more worryingly, the report shows NO progress was made in closing the attainment gap between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged pupils in the three years between 2016 and 2019.

    Read the full opinion piece here.

  • PUBLIC INQUIRY

    Dr Simon Hyde, general secretary of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC), which represents 296 leading private schools, has called for a public inquiry into the grading shambles.

    He said: “It is vital that lessons are learnt to avoid making the same mistakes next year.

    “We are worried about the effect of this mess on students taking their A-levels and GCSEs in 2021; they must return to school knowing that there is a sensible and ethical system in place if their exams have to be cancelled.”

    He added: “In particular, we need to understand why important decisions were taken once exams were cancelled to try and use statistics to predict every individual student's grade in every subject, and how much emphasis was put on fairness for every young person.

    “There are fundamental questions about the trust put in teachers and how their centre assessed grades were used.”

  • PIZZA PARTY

    Celeb chef Gordon Ramsay is giving out free pizza to kids getting their GCSEs results tomorrow at his London restaurant Street Pizza.

    The millionaire chef urged nervous to “indulge, enjoy and just relax” and not take their results too seriously.

    He said in a video announcing the free food: “Tomorrow's a big day, and there are lots of you that are worried about results tomorrow.

    “GCSEs are super important without a doubt, and this year has been so unfair in many ways, but more importantly to you, because you're not going to get to sit those exams you studied for and they're papers with results so, you cannot let one paper define you.

    “You're 16 years of age, that paper does not define you for the rest of your life because it was a B or a C.”

  • MAD RUSH FOR SIXTH FORM

    Laura Rettie, from education consultancy firm Studee, has said there will probably be a mad rush of kids trying to secure places at top sixth form colleges when GCSEs are released tomorrow.

    Ms Rettie said: “We’re likely to see a scrabble for sixth form and college places tomorrow due to higher pass rates meaning deserving students could miss out.

    “Although GCSE grades might appear less important than A Levels, they can play a big impact on a student's future.

    “Grades are often considered for college places as well as certain university courses. Not only this but the grades achieved at GCSE can help to motivate students to continue achieving in their A levels and give them the confidence to push themselves.

    “A set of undeserving poor results could make or break a young person – it’s just so incredibly sad.” 

  • NOT OUT OF THE WOODS

    Gavin Williamson has been warned he will be sacked if schools fail to reopen smoothly after the summer holiday, the Telegraph has reported.

    Senior backbenchers said the reopening of the schools in the next two weeks is absolutely critical to Britain's economic recovery – and Mr Williamson wouldn't be able to recover from yet another blinder.

  • SWEETEN THE DEAL

    Durham University is trying to convince students to defer their studies for a year – and free up space – by offering them money.

    In an email to students, the university said those who deferred would be guaranteed sought after college accomodations, according to The Guardian.

    Students “will be provided with a bursary by Durham University to help with their transition to university life”.

    Durham was unable to say how much a bursary would be worth.

  • LEFT IN THE LURCH

    The Institute for Fiscal Studies has said universities have been left unnecessarily in the lurch because of the grading disaster.

    The think tanks said top universities will be stretched for space – but also lower-ranking unis will lose a “substantial share” of their intake, and risk exacerbating financial difficulties because of the COVID-19 crisis.

    Jack Britton, an Associate Director at the IFS, said: “The government’s U-turn on A Level grades will cause further disruption for universities.

    “Some will struggle with higher than expected numbers of students, while others may find it hard to fill their places.

    “Had the government been more transparent about their proposed mechanism for assigning grades, all this could have been avoided.”

  • WHAT ABOUT NEXT YEAR?

    Of course, offering more pupils deferred places for next year will have a knock-on effect for anyone who is about to do their A-levels in 2021.

    Students have already expressed concerns that if loads of places are dished out this year, they will have a much harder chance of getting in, in just 12 months.

    Conservative MP Sir John Redwood told Newsnight any changes also needed to be fair to the class of 2021 as well as “make up to the class of 2020”, with next year's cohort needing to be assured of places if they got the necessary grades.

  • WE NEED DOCTORS

    The government is “absolutely looking at” lifting the cap on the number of places to study medicine, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said earlier today.

    The cap on students going to university has been ditched this year, but for some subjects it remains in place due to costs.

    In a letter to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, seen by the BBC, Universities UK sought “urgent assurances” that he was speaking to the Department for Health about increasing the medical student cap.

    “The role of universities in training the medical workforce is essential for all regions and nations of the UK, as clearly shown by our members' response to the Covid-19 pandemic,” the letter said.

  • WE TOLD YOU

    It's worth noting that weeks ago MPs first sounded the alarm on the GCSE and A Level grading not being fit for purpose.

    Mr Williamson said it was only last weekend he realised the true extent of the problem.

    He had been warned as early as June that the system would fail.

    A report by the Education Select Committee said the computerised marking was a recipe for disaster.

    It said downgrading marks to match how the school did in previous years “might not be fair” for “schools on an upward trajectory”.

    Ministers and Ofqual bosses refused to ditch the system.

    One Conservative politician said Ofqual and Mr Williamson were both “villains” who must carry the can.

    Labour MP Toby Perkins said: “The mess and chaos surrounding exam results is a result of the Government’s incompetence and they must take responsibility for it.”

  • 'WE NEED MORE HELP'

    Universities have say they need “significant financial support” from the Government to deal with students changing courses after being given higher marks because of the grading fiasco.

    In a letter to Gavin Williamson from Universities UK, seen by PA, vice-chancellors said: “The move to using centre-assessed grades will rightly address the inequalities suffered by many students from disadvantaged backgrounds by use of the original algorithm.

    “However, it will also result in significant overall grade inflation leading to significant decreases in planned enrolments at a number of institutions as students opt for higher tariff courses.”

    “Such institutions whose financial plans were based on the agreed temporary student number controls will now require additional government financial support.”

    The University and College Union and National Union of Students have also signed a joint letter warning that lifting the cap on students numbers would “remove one of the only interventions that the government has made to help mitigate the financial impact of the Covid crisis on universities”.

  • DON'T FORGET THEM

    Some home schooled or private A-level students still don't have grades because they did not have centre assessment grades (CAGS) which were used to form the basis of kids grades.

    It means many have been left with no grade at all, while some taking resits say they have been given the same grades they achieved last year.

    Priya Juttla, who was due to retake two A-levels this year, told PA: “The situation is quite unjust. We worked this hard for a year, why should we not get the same benefits?”

    The 19-year-old said she did not get the grades she needed last year as her father has early onset Parkinson's disease and was in poor health at the time of her exams.

  • FALL ON YOUR SWORD

    Gavin Williamson is said to have offered to resign as Education Secretary – but the PM said no.

    Mr Williamson spoke with Boris on the phone on Monday – with the PM taking a break from his holiday in Scotland to deal with the fallout.

    The i newspaper reported that he offered to resign, but that the PM did not accept this.

    No10 sources refused to comment on the reports today.

    However, one MP told The Sun he wasn't serious about quitting.

    They said: “He is not a resigner. You would have to chop off his hand to get him to resign.”

    Another said “vultures are circling” but Mr Williamson is a “master of finding someone else to chuck under a bus”.

    Read the full story here.

  • AI-IDIOT

    Exam regulator Ofqual has paused a study into whether artificial intelligence could be used to mark student's exams.

    In January it asked schools to send them 3,000 GCSE England language essays tor try and “train” AI software in a bid to try and improve marking.

    But after the grading algorithm fiasco the study has been paused.

    Tory MP and Chair of the Education select committee Robert Halfon said: ““I think what Ofqual needs now is a period of long reflection and internal examination rather than an AI revolution.

    “This project should be dropped for the foreseeable future.”

  • FED UP

    Students spent the day yesterday calling for Gavin Williamson's education, many of them held signs saying “5 days too late” after school leavers had days of chaos before the Government's U-turn over grades.

  • DOUBLE ACT

    The Chairman of exams regulator Ofqual Roger Taylor is also the chair for the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation – which commissioned a study into “bias in algorithmic decision making”.

    Mr Taylor is facing calls to resign after the regulator's algorithm meant 40 per cent of A-level results were downgraded – with a terrible bias against kids at disadvantaged schools.

    But an inquiry led by the CDEI highlighted concerns that “without proper oversight, algorithms risk entrenching and potentially worsening bias”, according to The Times.

    Mr Taylor recieves between £40,000 – 45,000 for his role at Ofqual – and an extra £80,000 working three days a week at CDEI.

  • LEGAL THREAT

    Lawyers have warned students could take legal action against universities if they have to defer a year, The Times reports.

    Thousands of students have been given boosted grades which mean universities are running out of space – and lawyers have warned they could face legal action.

    Suzanne Rab, a barrister at Serle Court Chambers, said:“I think there will be legal action by some to force universities to take them this year.

    “You’re looking ultimately at a judicial review.”

    Tina Patel, a personal injury lawyer for Leigh Day, said: “We have been inundated with inquiries from students who despite yesterday’s announcement have been left no better off.

    “Whilst the government has lifted the cap on the number of students universities can accept, the ultimate decision lies with the individual universities.

    “Some students may be offered places this year; some may be required to defer for a year and be forced to take a year out. This poses difficulties in the current economic climate.”

  • RECORD HIGHS

    GCSE results released tomorrow will be higher in every subject than last year, new analysis has suggested.

    FFT Education Datalab conducted research on school-assessed grades – now the basis of kids' GCSE marks – showing on average they were higher in every subject.

    The average grade for biology was 6.6 – just short of an A grade under the old A-E marking system.

    A spokesman for the company said grades had gone up significantly overall although it did not know if the “centre assessed grades” will be the same as what teachers told researchers they had submitted.

  • WORK HARDER

    Ex-Education Secretary Lord Blunkett has said there needs to be a “Nightingale-style” drive to expand sixth for capacity – or GCSE kids with boosted grades risk being turned away from full-to-the-brim A-level courses.

    Lord Blunkett said that an “enormous expansion” was needed to prevent students being left behind because of a lack of spaces in colleges – or apprenticeships and alternative options.

    He said: “We should put in plans for an enormous expansion, because where else are they going to go?

    “There is no jobs market, because apprenticeships are going to be in very short supply, because employers are not going to be able to take them on.

    “They need to bring forward funding at once and have Nightingale-style FE (further education) provision. They could take over office space or public space. We need the kind of drive that we had initially for the NHS capacity.

    “It’s the only way, because the students have nowhere else to go.”  

  • HEADS MUST ROLL

    A senior Conservative MP has called exams regulator Ofqual “bloody useless”.

    Ofqual chief regulator Sally Collier is facing the threat of being sacked after Education Secretary Gavin Williamson tried to pass the blame onto the regulator for the A-level fiasco.

    A senior Conservative MP told the Telegraph: “(Ofqual) are bloody useless. The whole organisation is absolutely useless. Ofqual has been a shambles from beginning to end.”

    Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, has refused to endorse Ms Collier who, while earning £200,000 a year, has stayed silent throughout the chaos.

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