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‘Our students still need help after A-Level fiasco to get to university’ Tower Hamlets mayor warns PM

PUBLISHED: 17:00 26 August 2020 | UPDATED: 18:38 26 August 2020

Mayor Biggs warns U-turn to correct A-Level grades didn't include BTEC students who

Mayor Biggs warns U-turn to correct A-Level grades didn't include BTEC students who "should be treated the same". Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

A plea for the prime minister to support pupils following the A-Levels exams “fiasco” caused by Lockdown who’ve missed out on university places has been made by the mayor of Tower Hamlets.

Mayor's letter to PM... Mayor's letter to PM... "Low-income students are disproportionately represented among those who miss out on university places." Picture: Mike Brooke

John Biggs has written to Downing Street after the government eventually made a U-turn using teachers’ assessments on grades instead of algorithm forecasts which downgraded most pupils.

“The exam fiasco was avoidable,” he said. “Ministers had months to prepare for this moment and failed.

“But I’m glad the government finally listened about the chaotic impact of grading algorithm.”

Mayor Biggs tell the PM in his letter of the “socio-economic bias of the algorithm” that has meant low-income students are “disproportionately represented among those who now miss out on their university place”.

Many universities are facing over-subscription, he points out, because they have to re-allocate places for those whose grades were “wrongly reduced” by the algorithm.

But the U-turn has also thrown up the problem of students who took BTEC who have not been included in the revised assessments. The mayor is asking that they are treated the same as those taking A-Levels who have since received better grades.

Cllr Danny Hassell, the mayor’s cabinet member for schools, said: “It was disappointing that the government failed to include BTEC grades in their U-turn. Our young people have worked hard through really difficult circumstances.”

Many students in the East End, he warns, have been left with “more anxiety and uncertainty” about their futures.


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