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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain


Twist and Shout

BORIS JOHNSON did another U-turn last weekend, reversing his government’s defence of the ludicrous mathematical formula – the Ofqual algorithm – to assess A-level grades in the absence of exams due to closure of schools during the coronavirus lock-down. Last week the Tories defended the exam regulator’s “robust” algorithm that disproportionately affected those in more deprived state schools and slashed the grades of hundreds of thousands of students in England.

Teaching unions protested. Students took to the streets in noisy protests. Labour leader Keir Starmer denounced the Government’s “unprecedented and chaotic” handling of the situation, while the regional governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland refused to implement the changes. Johnson can live with that. What did bother him was the anger of thousands of Tory parents angered at the way that their children’s university application had been jeopardised by the jobsworths at the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual), who may originally have thought that their scheme would only penalise working-class students.

No-one can blame Johnson for changing his mind. The Prime Minister’s decision to allow teachers’ assessments to be used instead of the downgraded results shows that the Prime Minister does heed protests – not least when they come from his own Tory heartlands. While Boris clearly has no firm opinion on any major matters of state, he could save himself a lot of grief if he stopped listening to the likes of Dominic Cummings and carried out proper consultations with the professional bodies, administrators, and teaching and student unions in the arena of education.