At a time when so many pupils have had severely disrupted education and those in deprived areas are likely to have suffered most from lack of continuity, surely it is sensible to let hard evidence take precedence over political dogma. Ever since a Conservative government under Margaret Thatcher started denigrating the concept of teacher-assessed coursework, until Michael Gove Guide 2 Passing finally abolished GCSE coursework in 2013, there has been a common thread to such attacks, namely the unfounded myth that teachers cannot be trusted. England’s exam regulator Ofqual was riven by uncertainty and in-fighting with the Department for Education before this year’s A-level and GCSE results, with the government publishing new policies in the middle of an Ofqual board meeting that had been called to discuss them. Minutes of Ofqual’s board meetings reveal the regulator was aware that its process for assessing A-level and GCSE grades was unreliable before results were published, even as Ofqual was publicly portraying its methods as reliable and fair. The minutes also show repeated interventions by the Exam Dumps education secretary, Gavin Williamson, and the DfE, with the two bodies clashing over Williamson’s demand that Ofqual allow pupils to use the results of mock exams as grounds for appeal against their official grades.
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