I would like to say congratulations to all the students receiving results today. I know this has been a particularly challenging time for you all, in light of the impact Covid-19 has had on the final few months at school/ sixth form.
Cancelling summer exams was a decision no Government wanted to take; however these are extraordinary times and this measure was a vital but unprecedented step in the country’s efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Our priority now is to ensure no young person faces a barrier when it comes to moving onto the next stage of their lives – whether that’s college, university, an apprenticeship or a job.
We know there is no perfect substitute for exams, but we have put in place a system that will give everyone confidence in these results and ensure fairness for all young people.
The Government has created a ‘triple lock’ to give students a safety net. This means students can accept the calculated grade you’ve received today, ask your school or college to appeal (including on the basis of a valid mock result) or sit an exam in the autumn. We will ensure all outcomes are given the same weighting by universities, employers and colleges.
The grades students have received today are based on grades submitted by the teachers and have been moderated by exam boards to make sure the same standard is applied to all students – whichever school, college or part of the country you come from. This method was developed by Ofqual, and it is as fair and as robust as possible. Ofsted’s analysis has confirmed that students from all backgrounds – including more underprivileged students who have not been at a disadvantage by this year’s awarding process.
Nevertheless, I recognise that any process of this kind has limitations and that whilst we expect the vast majority of grades awarded to be accurate, it is essential that there is a robust appeals process in place. Ofqual has confirmed that the grounds on which schools and colleges can appeal – and it is worth speaking to your institution to understand if this option is available.
For students who remain unhappy with their grades, there will be an opportunity to take exams this autumn.
I understand that this has been an anxious time for many young people and their families, and we have sought to reassure them as far as possible. Ofqual has published guidance, including a student guide at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/your-results-what-next, which outlines how the process works and what students’ next steps might be, including if they are unhappy with their results. A national Exam Results Helpline will be operating from 8am to 10pm on 13 to 28 August for young people or their parents to speak to a professionally qualified careers adviser if they need advice on their next steps. The number for this is 0800 100 900.
And please do be reassured that this Government is doing everything it can to ensure students can move on successfully to the important next stage of life. We’ve announced a range of schemes targeted at giving young people the opportunities they deserve – particularly in the wake of coronavirus.
- A Kickstart Scheme, which will create hundreds of thousands of high-quality jobs for young people at the highest risk of long-term unemployment – helping to build skills, experience and confidence in the workplace.
- The government is funding jobs created under this scheme for 16-24-year-olds, covering 100 per cent of the National Minimum Wage for 25 hours a week, for six months in total.
- High quality traineeships for young people – the government is providing extra funding this year for traineeships in England, to fund high quality work placements and training for 16-24-year olds. For the first time ever, the government will fund employers who provide trainees with work experience, at a rate of £1,000 per trainee. We will also increase the eligibility of Traineeships to include young people qualified up to Level 3, up from Level 2 currently.
- Providing £2,000 to employers for each new apprentice they hire under the age of 25, helping more people into the workplace while developing key skills.
- Giving young people who have just left school the skills they need to find work in high-value sectors, such as engineering, construction and social care. We are providing funding to 18- and 19-year olds to take high value courses at Levels 2 and 3 where work opportunities are not available.
- Expanding the support on offer to help people find a job, so they can get back on their feet and into work – for example, we are doubling the number of Work Coaches through Job Centre Plus, and we will recruit more advisers for the National Careers Service.
I know this has been a difficult time, but please be assured that we are doing everything we can to ensure all students can move onto the exciting next stage of life.