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Labour responds to #ResultsDay – as data shows Black students, those on free school meals and in areas of high disadvantage were more likely to miss out on the top grades compared to their peers

Kate Green
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 Labour’s @KateGreenSU warns Conservatives have opened the door to unfairness as Ofqual data shows soaring private school grades

Data released by Ofqual – the Government’s exams regulator – today shows that private schools have seen their grades soar compared to state schools this year, while Black students, those on free school meals and in areas of high disadvantage were more likely to miss out on the top grades compared to their peers. 

The increase in A grades awarded today is 50 per cent higher among private schools compared with secondary comprehensives, and more than double the increase seen among students at Sixth Form Colleges.

Meanwhile, the Government data shows that Black students, those on free school meals or living in areas of high deprivation were less likely to achieve the top A or A* grades than their more advantaged peers.

The Conservatives’ last minute decision making on exams opened the door to this widening of the attainment gap. While flexibility to account for disruption was necessary, the accompanying lack of a central approach has seen some students taking over 20 exams while others have done just a couple.

Ahead of results day, research from The Sutton Trust warned this was advantaging private schools who were more likely to be giving their students advance notice of questions, or ‘open book’ assessments, while teachers in deprived areas were most likely to report the support received to award grades was insufficient.

Kate Green MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said:

 “Labour congratulates all students receiving their grades today and thanks the incredible education staff who worked tirelessly to award these results.

 “Yet the Conservatives’ chaotic last-minute decision making has opened the door to unfairness. The increase in A grades is 50 per cent higher among private schools, while Black students, students on free school meals and in areas of high deprivation are being increasingly out performed by their more advantaged peers.

 “The Government’s measly recovery plan will see half a million students leave school this summer without any support to recover lost learning or boost their wellbeing. Labour has set out a comprehensive Children’s Recovery Plan with opportunities for all young people to learn, play and develop post-pandemic. The Conservatives’ need to match Labour’s ambition for our children’s learning and their futures.” 

Official data released this morning from Ofqual shows:

Private schools have seen an absolute increase in A grades of 9.3 percentage points compared to 6.2 percentage points among secondary comprehensives.

In relation to achieving A or A* grades, the gap between Black candidates, free school meal candidates, and candidates with a very high level of deprivation has widened compared to respective reference groups by 1.43, 1.42 and 1.39 percentage points respectively. 

  • Research by The Sutton Trust has found that: “independent schools more likely than state schools to use a wider variety of assessments, including giving prior access to questions and ‘open book’ assessments. Some parents may also have tried to influence assessments, 23% of parents at private schools said parents had approached or pressured them about their child grades this year, compared to 17% at state schools with affluent intakes, and just 11% at the least affluent.” (Sutton Trust

Labour’s Children’s Recovery Plan would deliver catch up support for school pupils, including:

Small group tutoring for all who need it

Breakfast clubs and activities for every child 

Quality mental health support for children in every school

Continued professional development for teachers to support pupils to catch up on lost learning, and

Targeted extra investment from early years to further education to support young people who struggled most with learning in lockdown

 

Labour analysis has estimated that 560,918 students will leave school without catch-up support this summer

Year

Total pupils leaving secondary school

Estimated proportion of these pupils receiving support

Estimated leaving without support

20/21

580,031

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19,113

560,918

21/22

594,279

80,367

513,912

22/23

613,516

149,682

463,834

23/24

637,409

224,824

412,585

Totals

2,425,235

473,985

1,951,250

 

 Over the next four years pupils receiving catch-up tutoring and mentoring:

2020/21: 250,000 pupils

2021/22: 776,000 pupils

2022/23: 825,000 pupils

2023/24: 825,000 pupils

 

Assuming the pupils receiving this support are distributed evenly in proportion to the number of pupils in each school year, over the next four years nearly 2 million could leave without any support.

Pupils in each school year – GOV.UK

DfE National Tutoring Programme (inc. mentoring) contract – GOV.UK

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