Law Firm Threatening Legal Action Over A-level Grades

Publication Date20 August 2020
SubjectConsumer Protection, Government, Public Sector, Law Department Performance, Constitutional & Administrative Law, Education, Workflow and Workload Management , Management
Law FirmLeigh Day
AuthorLeigh Day
Leigh Day, on behalf of 18-year old student Curtis Parfitt-Ford, have written to the body which regulates qualifications, examinations and assessments in England, claiming the process adopted to award grades this year is unlawful, and called on the Government to review and revise the scheme as a matter of absolute priority.

Mr Parfitt-Ford, who studied at a comprehensive school in west London, says he feels angry on behalf of thousands of students affected after 40% of students received A-level grades that were one or two grades lower than their 'Centre assessment grades' (CAGs). He has created a GoFundMe page to help with the legal fight.

On 3 April 2020, Ofqual announced that schools and colleges would be required to provide CAGs based on a wide range of teacher-assessed evidence, including classwork, previous exam results and non-exam assessments.

Announcing the measure, Ofqual's Chief Regulator Sally Collier stated: "school or college based assessment already has an important role in many GCSE, AS and A levels and in extraordinary circumstances such as these, schools and colleges are best placed to judge the likely performance of their students at the end of the course"

The CAGs was then put through a "process of standardisation" including an "historic grade distribution" which saw the issued grades for large numbers of students determined wholly or largely by reference to how students at the school in question had performed in the relevant subject over the previous three years.

This meant that any student in a cohort of more than five pupils could have their exam grade determined, at least in part, by factors unrelated to their individual academic ability.

Those effects were disproportionately felt by students at state schools: whilst independent schools saw an increase of 4.7% in the number of students securing A/A* grades from 2019, the percentage increase of A/A* grades was considerably smaller for state schools, and static for further education colleges.

Lawyers argue that this creates substantive unfairness in university admissions and in many apprenticeship schemes, with private school students more likely to be able to meet any offers and secure places than equally academically strong state school students.

In the letter before action sent to Ofqual by Leigh Day on 14 August 2020, lawyers for Mr Parfitt-Ford argue that the model is unlawful on a number of levels, including the fact that, for a large number of students, it fails to take...

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