A-level U-turn: PaJeS says ‘extreme stress could have been avoided sooner’

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A-level U-turn: PaJeS says ‘extreme stress could have been avoided sooner’

'These past few days have put a significant number of school leavers under extreme stress,' says umbrella group for Jewish schools

The “extreme” stress for A-level students caused by the Government’s initial grading system could have been avoided “a lot sooner.”

That’s the message from the umbrella group representing Jewish schools in the UK after exam regulator Ofqual announced on Monday a switch to centre-assessed grades for AS, A Level and GCSE pupils across England.

This year’s GCSE and A-level exams were cancelled to curb the spread of the pandemic.

Close to 40 percent of teacher assessed grades in England were marked down by regulator Ofqual using an algorithm, sparking wide criticism.

PaJeS said in a statement: “These past few days have put a significant number of school leavers under extreme stress – a situation that could have been avoided or ameliorated a lot sooner.

“We hope that using centre assessed grades addresses some of the concerns that have been raised and acknowledges the hard work of students over the past two years.”

PaJeS praised teachers in Jewish schools “who spent hours applying professional judgment to produce centre assessed grades to best reflect student attainment will feel vindicated for their students.”

PaJeS also said the U-turn highlights an “over reliance on the outcomes of examinations” and suggested it might be time to consider additional assessing methods.”

“It is time now to take action to ensure that next year’s GCSEs and A-level results are not impacted in the same way as it is clear that the actions taken to date are inadequate and need to be improved,” PaJeS added.

Tory MP Robert Halfon tweeted that it was “the right decision” and that “many students and their families” will be relieved by the announcement.

Halfon, who is Jewish and chairs the House of Commons education committee, had criticised the initial grading grading system last week.

Speaking just two days prior to GCSE results day, Ofqual chairman Roger Taylor apologised for the uncertainty and anxiety caused by the grading approach.

He said: “Our goal has always been to protect the trust that the public rightly has in educational qualifications.

“But we recognise that while the approach we adopted attempted to achieve these goals we also appreciate that it has also caused real anguish and damaged public confidence.

“Expecting schools to submit appeals where grades were incorrect placed a burden on teachers when they need to be preparing for the new term and has created uncertainty and anxiety for students. For all of that, we are extremely sorry.”

Last week, the initial grading system came under sharp criticism from Kantor King Solomon High School’s headteacher, who said it had “robbed” pupils of a chance to show what they had learnt.

Hannele Reece, who heads the modern Orthodox comprehensive in Barkingside, said last Thursday the “debacle around the way students’ results have been calculated has led to a situation where students are judged on the basis of a moderation system that has not seen any of their work.”

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