A-level students in England have had their results reassessed by their teachers after many saw that they were downgraded by Ofqual’s algorithm. This comes after the government’s U-turn decision following several student protests that have taken place across the UK. Students have been left feeling confused and deflated over their downgraded results and Forge Press has spoken with those who have experienced difficulties during this time.
‘It was such an emotional and heartbreaking day… all three subjects were downgraded’
18-year-old Joe Rees-Jones from Bristol, an incoming Politics and Economics student at Sheffield University, had a similar experience to countless others upon opening his A-level exam results, “to find that all three subjects had been downgraded.” He said that he was certain he would attain a grade A in Economics based on Ofqual’s algorithm, since he was consistently achieving over 80 per cent in his practice exams throughout the year.
Joe also discussed his views regarding the debate of whether the algorithm favours those at private schools more so than those from public schools.
He said: “The algorithm punished those who were defying the odds of their local area to gain offers at prestigious universities, while simultaneously giving the majority of those more fortunate a pat on the back.”
Nevertheless, after being on hold for over an hour to be told he had been denied acceptance of his first choice at Exeter University, Joe is now overjoyed to instead have been offered a place at Sheffield University.
He said: “It was such an emotional and heartbreaking day, it was amazing to have Sheffield Clearing and Adjustment call me up to tell me I had successfully gained a place for Politics and Economics.”
‘It is an utter shambles and annoying to have no idea where my future lies’
However, Connor Bragger, an aspiring Journalism Studies student at Sheffield University, is holding off from celebrating his results so soon. He said that the algorithm is “awful” and the government’s efforts to provide students with fair grading has been “handled poorly as they don’t seem to trust the teachers that they trained.”
Joe attained BBC in his mocks but this was marked down to BCD, leaving him confused as to where he stands with his university offers.
“I have no idea whether my place is for this year or next year,” he said. “It is an utter shambles and annoying to have no idea where my future lies.”
It is especially difficult for Connor at the moment since his chosen course is already filling up while he is waiting on his centre assessment grades.
“They accepted people below the offer on results day meaning they’ve almost filled the course making mine and other people’s chances of getting in this year even harder. They told me that it is because they are from a disadvantaged background or have had family bereavements but I know this to not be true for some of the students as I’ve gotten to know them during lockdown.”
While grades seem to be the only thing on other students minds, Connor is also finding it difficult to plan ahead should he get a spot at Sheffield.
“The process has been stressful with the loss of my accommodation even though I was appealing and it took 3 hours of phone calls to be able to get it back.”
He is now left to hope that the government decision to allow teachers to grade their students will grant him a place to study at Sheffield University.
He said: “My backup plan is to go to my insurance which is the University of Gloucestershire who have been very kind and patient during the process and they’d love to know if I am going or not but I have no answers for them.
“I can’t sort accommodation or check my student finance until I know where I am going which is creating more stress. I could take time out but personally I want to get into the field as quickly as possible and taking a year out will be wasting a year for me personally, so if Sheffield offered me a place for next year I will be rejecting it.”
Sheffield University have issued a statement to comfort students regarding their A-level grades and how this may affect their university offers. They said that they have been working hard to ensure that all students are treated fairly regardless of their background.
The statement said: “We’re pleased to be able to accept all applicants who now meet the terms of their original offer by 7 September (31 August for Dentistry) on all programmes that do not have strict limitations on the number of people who can study on the course each year.
“For those students who now meet the requirements of their offer but are applying to courses with capacity constraints like an externally-determined cap (such as medicine), we’ll do all we can to offer a place this year and we’ll guarantee deferred entry to September 2021.
“For applicants who receive higher results from the teacher predicted grades, but still don’t quite meet their original offer terms, we will also consider these applications on a case-by-case basis.”
‘[The algorithm] fortunately did not affect my uni offer…’
Meanwhile, there are other A-level students who haven’t experienced the same level of stress as Joe and Connor. Sheila Medland, a confirmed Korean Studies student at Sheffield University said that “[the algorithm] fortunately did not affect my uni offer as I did get an offer from my first choice, Sheffield.” She is “extremely happy” to be moving to Yorkshire this academic year as she has dreamed of studying there for many years.
Yet while Sheila’s attained grades didn’t affect her university offers, she still empathises with those who haven’t yet been offered a firm place. “There have been cases where students have been marked down 3 grades… it is frankly unfair and not an accurate representation as to what students from more deprived areas are capable of.”
‘I did feel disheartened to see a lowered version of my grade.’
Antaliya is due to study at Sheffield this September after being apprehensive as to whether she would get accepted into any of her choices. “I thought I wouldn’t even get into my insurance so accessing track and seeing that I had been accepted into Sheffield, which was my first choice, was extremely unexpected.”
Yet being accepted doesn’t take away the fact that Antalyia’s A-level grade C in History seemed harsh as she took intensive history courses to ensure she attained high grades. She said: “we are all working as hard as each other so I did feel disheartened to see a lowered version of my grade.”
Feature image used: Pixabay.com