Lisa Nandy MP: A-level exam results hell for students

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
For those students who received A-level results last week only to find that they weren’t even close to what they were expecting, the past few days must have been awful.

As if the stress of lockdown - the closure of schools and colleges and the cancelling of exams – wasn’t enough, the extra stress that they and their families have been placed under by the government’s complete failure to find a way to fairly grade them is unforgivable.

I have been inundated with emails and phone calls, desperate to understand how this could have happened and what can be done to fix it. They deserve so much better.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Education should be the great leveller. I believe that every young person should have access to a first-class education. Talent and hard work should be the keys to opportunity, not where you grow up or how much money your parents have.

Wigan MP Lisa NandyWigan MP Lisa Nandy
Wigan MP Lisa Nandy

It was working with some of the most disadvantaged young people in the country and seeing the barriers that they had to overcome even just to get to school that made me want to become a Member of Parliament and help to try to make that belief a reality.

So to see a government who claim to want to “level-up” the country then go on to implement a system that penalised students based not on their abilities but on the school they go to, a system that favoured students from private schools who already have every advantage going, a system that they knew would end up destroying the hopes and dreams of brilliant, smart and dedicated young people in Wigan and beyond, and then to see them spend the weekend defending it and refusing to even contemplate any changes was intolerable.

Thankfully, we have now had another of this government’s screeching U-turns. The eventual announcement from the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, that students would receive their centre assessment grades – that is, grades based on the professional judgement of their teachers – was welcome.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It’s not a perfect system, but it is a fairer one, particularly for larger colleges like those that we have in Wigan.

And it has come about from the pressure applied by those students who bravely went public with their stories of being awarded grades well below anything they had received before and who refused to quietly accept their fate.

There is more for the government to do, however. They have plunged university enrolment into chaos. There are BTEC students who haven’t yet received any grades and are currently stuck in limbo.

And on Thursday, GCSE results will be released. We’ve asked this year’s school-leavers to endure lockdown, and now we’re asking them to further their education or enter the job market into the teeth of the worst recession in modern history.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

They deserve stability and clarity, not stress and anxiety.

This latest fiasco, hot on the heels of this government’s inability to get to grips with Covid testing, their stance on not extending free school meals through the summer, and their inability to communicate clearly and straightforwardly when re-introducing lockdown to Greater Manchester, shows that beyond all the bluster and extravagant claims lies incompetence and ineptitude.

Students bore the brunt of it this week, but who’s next? It is no way to run a country.