Team Lopez - Hornchurch & Upminster MP, Julia Lopez, met the senior leadership of Havering Sixth Form College this morning to raise the concerns of local students, parents and teachers about exam grading.
The MP received countless representations from worried A Level pupils after teacher-assessed marks were put through a second moderation process that was feared to have led to consistent downgrades in particular subjects. Concerns were also raised about the transparency of the appeal process and the potential to miss out on university and apprenticeship places.
After putting in a request for an urgent meeting last week, Mrs Lopez met the College’s Principal, Janet Smith, at the Wingletye Lane campus this morning to work through the issues raised with the MP’s office. Mrs Smith explained that the College has now reviewed grades across the board and found that most initial target grades did not change from the actual results given in the majority of subjects. This has not been the case for other subjects, however, particularly maths and humanities.
The College is now actively considering all appeals and for some subjects will undertake a wholesale review that will determine whether the right grade boundaries were applied. This will be taking place from tomorrow, and they hope to let students know later this week or early next whether they will receive different grades. The College aims to complete the process as soon as possible and will assist students in liaising with universities or other institutions if necessary.
Following the meeting Julia Lopez said, ‘It has been an incredibly tough year for Havering students, teachers and parents with the disruption to learning from the pandemic. Everyone has worked hard to adapt to these difficult circumstances but getting the right grading and assessment system in place was always going to be a big challenge. I am concerned that whatever process a local school or college uses is as fair as possible in the circumstances. I am pleased that Janet and her team have listened to students’ concerns and will be reviewing individual appeals across the board and grading in particular subjects this week, while supporting any liaison with universities and other institutions. I hope that my meeting with Janet will lead to an outcome that reassures students of the integrity of their eventual grades, and helps with their next stage of education or the first steps in their working lives.’
Email update from Julia Lopez to concerned residents
Further to our correspondence last week about A Level grading at Havering Sixth Form College, you will be aware that I arranged a meeting with Principal, Janet Smith.
That meeting took place at 8.45 this morning, and I went through the concerns that you and others shared with me last week about grading, transparency and appeals. Janet, in turn, took me through the process the College went through in advance of the results announcement to try to make sure grades were an accurate reflection of students’ performance, would pass muster with the exam board (avoiding any assertions of grade inflation that might put in jeopardy the overall integrity of results) and were reached by a method that was clear to students, parents and teachers.
The College have reviewed the grades given and found that most initial target grades did not change from the actual results given in the majority of subjects. This has not been the case for other subjects, however, particularly maths and humanities. They are now actively considering all appeals and for some subjects will undertake a wholesale review that will determine whether the right grade boundaries were applied. This will be taking place from tomorrow, and they hope to let students know later this week or early next whether they will receive different grades. They hope to complete the process as soon as possible and will assist students in liaising with universities or other institutions if necessary.
I know a number of students were concerned that the original deadline of 13 August did not allow enough time to lodge appeals. This has now been extended and clearer information will be published on the NCC website. Students in the meantime can request transparent information on their assessment marks at each stage of the process that led to the award of their grade - this is a faster means of obtaining information than any formal GDPR request, although they will be processing the request that has been made of them.
Janet advised that teachers were instructed not to suggest grades at any point in the process but to award marks – if this has not been the case in any instant, students may wish to include this information within their appeal. If a student is unhappy with the outcome of their appeal to NCC, there is a secondary independent appeals process to the exam board that can be entered into. Since the college holds all assessment information on each student, Janet wished to assure me that students do not need to lodge detailed appeals with supporting information in the first appeal.
Thank you again for taking the trouble to share with me your concerns about the grading process. It has been a very difficult year for students, parents, and the teaching team alike in trying to reach a fair means of assessing efforts and aptitude, and I hope that my meeting with Janet will lead to an outcome that reassures students and parents of the integrity of their eventual grades.