Andy Burnham has officially confirmed his intentions to write to England’s exams regulator Ofqual to initiate legal action over the “deeply flawed” system for A-Level results in Greater Manchester.
He confirmed his intent to do so on social media this morning.
The Mayor of Greater Manchester said last week that he had met with college leaders from across Greater Manchester on A-Level results day on Thursday and had hearda “consistent account of colleges not receiving the grades that they had submitted for their students and experiencing a significant downgrading of marks compared to previous years”.
He then publicly expressed that this “cannot go unchallenged”.
His challenging follows the widespread criticism after it was confirmed that 280,000 A-Level results in England – almost 40% of the total – were downgraded from teacher assessments and 42% of A-Level results in Wales predicted by teachers were lowered by the exam watchdog on Thursday.
The system used to award results took into account institutions’ historic performances.
Separate Ofqual data also went on to reveal that private schools increased the proportion of students being awarded top grades (A*/A) by more than double that of comprehensive schools and sixth form colleges.
In a statement addressing the system yesterday, a Department for Eduction spokesperson said: “Hundreds of thousands of students have received a calculated grade that will enable them to progress to the next stage of their education or into work. We have been clear that we want to build as much fairness into the appeals as possible to help young people in the most difficult cases and have been working with Ofqual to achieve that.
“Ofqual continues to consider how best to deliver the appeals process to give schools and pupils the clarity they need.”
Responding to the statement via Twitter today, Mr Burnham said: “So it looks like the government ARE digging in and standing by their deeply flawed system. In that case, I will be taking legal advice this morning and have instructed leading Counsel.
“I expect to be writing to Ofqual later today to initiate action.”
The confirmation of Mr Burnham’s intent to take legal action comes after his official statement and his live appearance discussing matters on BBC Breakfast on Saturday morning.
He declared the situation as “the single biggest act of levelling down that this country has ever seen”.
“Given that a higher proportion of students from Greater Manchester attend such institutions than in other parts of the country, I am concerned that the marking system has been unfairly discriminatory against young people here, in part due to the institutions they attend,” he added.
“This seems to be backed up by the official Ofqual figures that indicate that the North West has been the region most affected, reflecting the higher number of large educational institutions in our area.”
“As mayor, I cannot hear stories of young people in Greater Manchester having their futures so unfairly damaged without taking a stand on their behalf.”
Mr Burnham said he will look to challenge the algorithm used by the government in the courts for a potential breach of the Equality Act 2010.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast presenter Charlie Stayt, he said: “One of our most successful inner-city sixth form colleges had 1,654 results downgraded and then we hear some private schools have had no downgrades at all.
“The system is straightforwardly discriminatory against larger institutions, against students who go to those sixth form colleges, or FE colleges. The weighting has been applied against those institutions and not against some of the smaller institutions. For that reason I just think this cannot go unchallenged and I am considering taking legal action and looking at all options as to how we might do that.
“It just can’t be allowed to stand.
“The government’s remedy of saying the appeals can be free [but] I am afraid that doesn’t help young people who have lost their university place.
“This is not just a few young people, this is thousands of young people in Greater Manchester.
“Here, we have a tradition of young people going to sixth form colleges. We have more sixth form colleges than other parts of the country so this has hit us very, very hard indeed and I cannot stand by and see thousands of lives ruined across Greater Manchester.”
Ofqual has stated that there was no evidence “bias” had been introduced into the moderation system set up following the cancellation of exams due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
On Sunday, hundreds of students held a demonstration in central London to protest against grades they believe were unfairly awarded.
Similar demonstrations are expected to take place in Manchester city centre this weekend.
Football fans call out ‘tone-deaf’ FA TikTok for mocking ‘life-threatening’ head injury
Football fans are calling out the official FA Cup TikTok account for mocking a serious head injury suffered by a Stockport County player earlier this week.
The Hatters beat Charlton Athletic in fine fashion with a 3-1 victory on Wednesday, 7 December, with Will Collar’s hattrick (the club’s first since 2019) sending them through to the next round of the cup.
However, another notable moment from the night was right back Macauley Southam-Hales’ collision with advertising hoarders after a shove from Charlton captain George Dobson.
As the likes of County fan Joel Ward wrote on Twitter, many online were quick to slam the clip for joking about an injury that hospitalised the player, the consensus being that it isn’t a “great look” for the FA.
While many reacting in the comments recognised that Dobson didn’t intend to hurt Southam-Hales by shepherding the ball out of play, the Stockport defender does hit the predominantly metal structure with some force and was left in clear discomfort following the smash.
The video itself has since been removed from the official account following the backlash but people are still reacting as the clip continues to be reshared on social media.
The clip was branded as everything from “disgusting” and “disgraceful” to “simply unbelievable”.
What’s most concerning is that despite the recent push to promote awareness surrounding concussions, brain trauma and even heading the ball – which, historically, haven’t been properly monitored in football – whoever posted the video on behalf of the FA didn’t consider the very serious nature of the incident.
As alluded to above, perhaps what makes the post even more shocking and tone-deaf is that it comes just weeks after Bath City player forward Alex Fletcher was placed in intensive care following an almost identical accident.
The 23-year-old underwent life-saving brain surgery and although he has since been discharged from the hospital, he is said to have a “long road to recovery ahead of him”.
County confirmed that despite being the all-clear pitchside, Southam-Hales was taken to the hospital as a precaution after he suffered significant swelling around the neck area. Nevertheless, as we know all too well, it could have been much worse.
As for the FA, they have now apologised for the inappropriate attempt at humour, confirming that they have removed the video from all official accounts, admitting that “it should never have been published and assuring that they will “review [their] processes to ensure this never happens again.”
You can watch the full highlights from Stockport County vs Charlton Athletic HERE but we’d recommend you watch Alan Shearer reminding everyone who plays football to be more vigilant when it comes to head injuries.
Andy Burnham wants to help more girls get into football
Andy Burnham has urged schools to do more to encourage young girls to get into football.
The Greater Manchester Mayor was speaking to Sky News‘ Kay Burley on Thursday, 8 December as he discussed the importance of promoting more women in football and sport, in general.
Burnham said that himself, the FA and notable women’s football advocates like former keeper Karen Bardsley are “determined” to make sure the buzz following the Women’s Euros isn’t just a flash in the pan.
With the England men’s team currently trying to replicate the Lionesses‘ success as they prepare for the quarter-final of the 2022 World Cup, he went on to emphasise the lasting memories football can create on a global scale.
The Mayor went on to say that with the help of schools across the UK, they hope to “make sure that the success the Lionesses had in the summer becomes a permanent legacy”, imploring schools, the sporting community and the nation at large “not let those summer memories fade”.
Insisting that he already feels the heroics of Euro 2022 have already had an impact when it comes to inspiring more girls to get into football.
He said that the uptake among “women in football” since the tournament has been “amazing” but warned educators and parents not to “leave it to chance” and provide the support to make “real change”.