A-Level results fiasco: University ‘practically impossible’ for Welwyn Hatfield student with lowered grade

Amal from Bishop's Hatfield Girl's School celebrating her results (in left hand corner) with Chancel

Amal from Bishop's Hatfield Girl's School celebrating her results (in left hand corner) with Chancellor's students, Eren, Dan and Sam, in the right and Onslow St Audrey's in the bottom rectangle. Pictures: Supplied by schools. - Credit: Archant

A Welwyn Hatfield student has spoken out after her downgraded A-Level results mean she may not be going to university.

The pupil, who asked to remain anonymous, said it was now “practically impossible” for her to get any of her UCAS choices and the university she already got into has rescinded its offer.

“I went from a BBB [predicted grade] to a CCB,” she said. “I’m just going to figure out if I should do the exams or appeal now.”

After final exams were cancelled due to COVID-19, schools were told to make their best prediction of each student and place candidates in rank order. Grades were then awarded by exam regulators Ofqual, on the basis of a controversial modelling system taking into account schools’ performance in previous years – which has meant that around 40 per cent of students in England have had their results downgraded.

The Welwyn and Hatfield Consortium of schools – which includes Bishop’s Hatfield Girls’, Monk’s Walk, Onslow St Audrey’s, Ridgeway Academy and Stanborough – acknowledged this year was going to prove tough for students and said they will be here to “ensure that they are able to secure their places at university, on apprenticeships, and in employment”.

In a statement the schools added: “All schools were asked to make their best assessment of what grade each student would be most likely to receive in each of their subjects; our staff worked diligently and collaboratively to provide grades for students and to place them in rank order as fairly and accurately as possible.

“The purpose of this ranking was to allow adjustments to take place to ensure the distribution of grades at a national level was similar to previous years. Inevitably there may be some mismatch between centre-assessed grades provided by each school and the final grades awarded by exam boards but it is too early to fully assess the impact of this on individual students, schools or subject areas. The last-minute inclusion of mock results has added to the challenge.”

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Grant Shapps, Welwyn Hatfield MP and transport secretary, has defended the government over the handling of results and said that more disadvantaged pupils are going to university this year compared to previous years.

Mr Shapps said on BBC Breakfast: “To me that’s great news and by the way congratulations to all the A-Level students from yesterday and good luck to the GCSE students for next week.”

Patrick Roach, general secretary of teachers’ union NASUWT, said: “No young person’s future life chances should be compromised as a direct consequence of the decision this year to cancel exams due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Employers, together with further and higher education institutions, should be encouraged to be flexible when making recruitment and admissions decisions this year.

“Lessons will need to be learned on how best to secure a more resilient qualifications system which recognises fairly the achievements of all students next year and in future years.”

The University of Hertfordshire’s Students Union is also supporting a petition to lobby the government for “urgent change to the unfair system” of A Level results.