The UK government has announced that students in England will now be awarded the grade that their teachers had predicted for them based on past performance rather than rely on an algorithm to help generate their marks.

The move was criticized as the algorithm used to assess grade predictions made by teachers saw marks lowered for almost 40 percent of students taking their main school-leaving exams. Students were not allowed to sit this year’s exams due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The algorithm – devised by the exams regulator in England, Ofqual – will now be ditched, Education Minister Gavin Williamson said. “I am sorry for the distress this has caused young people and their parents but hope this announcement will now provide the certainty and reassurance they deserve,” he said on Monday.

“We now believe it is better to offer young people and parents certainty by moving to teacher assessed grades for both A and AS level and GCSE results.” Education Secretary @GavinWilliamson After an extraordinarily difficult year for students, this news will provide certainty.

Williamson had promised only last week there would be no u-turns on the results generated by the algorithm.

The announcement regarding students in England follows similar moves in Wales and Northern Ireland.

There was huge outcry in Scotland in early August when education authorities there revealed they had downgraded some 124,000 exam results, with criticism centering on the claim that the moderation system used penalized pupils in disadvantaged areas disproportionately. The Scottish government subsequently rolled back the use of that system and reverted to teacher estimates of student results.

After A-level students held protests across the UK, Labour leader Keir Starmer tweeted the government had been “forced into a screeching U-turn after days of confusion.” He described Downing Street’s handling of students’ results as “a complete fiasco.”

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