You failed

I can’t stop thinking about how I was predicted really high grades then tanked my A-levels, but that this year I’d have probably got close to my expected grades and someone else in my year would have been given the “statistically some people really under-perform on the day” penalty.

It wasn’t so much that I’d under-performed, more that I’d lost interest and motivation and should probably have quit and concentrated on being a sound engineer until I was in a better frame of mind for academia.

But there will be plenty of properly motivated people who will be living with the consequences of these exam results for the rest of their lives. It’s easy from the viewpoint of being successful to exhibit the survivor bias of telling kids “exam results don’t matter that much”, but right now those grades can make a world of difference to a huge number of kids as to what doors do and don’t open for them.

And don’t get me started on the absolute injustice of students being handed ‘U’ grades this summer. Maybe they weren’t predicted to do that well, but how can you be told that you’ve failed an exam that you never even sat down to take?

The people who have been in charge of our children’s education for a decade have been driven by an ideology that one-off exams under pressure are a better judge of pupils qualities, rather than continuous assessment.

And then when it came to a year when you couldn’t hold exams, they were given months to prepare, and produced an absolute fiasco.

As education secretary and as a government, this was your one-off exam. I don’t think people think you’ve prepared very well for it, or achieved the grade you were hoping for. You failed.