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Teachers’ decisions about A-level and GCSE grades are not up for ‘negotiation’

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Teachers’ decisions about what grades to award GCSE and A-level pupils should not be up for negotiation with parents or students, the acting chair of Ofqual has said.

Ian Bauckham, interim chair of the exams regulator, told heads it would be “wrong and fundamentally unfair” if judgments were subject to pressure or interference by people “with a vested interest”.

His comments came after the Government confirmed last month that teachers in England will decide pupils’ A-level and GCSE grades this summer after exams were cancelled for the second year in a row.

Mr Bauckham said: “We have said as a principle of transparency that candidates should know on what evidence their grade has been determined.

Education Committee / PA Wire

“However let me be crystal clear about the following point. That principle – which we believe is right and appropriate in the context of this year’s approach to grading – does not mean that either the selection of evidence, or the decision about the grade which the evidence supports are somehow topics for negotiation between teacher and student, or teacher and parents. They are not.”

His comments came after Richard Sheriff, president of the ASCL, warned parents with “pointy elbows and lawyer friends” could widen the equality gap if they apply pressure to teachers deciding grades.

Mr Bauckham told heads: “It would be quite wrong and fundamentally unfair both for teachers and students for these decisions to be subject to pressure, or interference from those with a vested interest.

“That would risk discrediting the process and ultimately could end up with young people in destinations for which they were ill-prepared, potentially displacing those better suited to them.”

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has insisted that grades decided by teachers will be fair amid concerns that the plan will result in grade inflation.

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