Potential Plus UK’s main concern with Ofqual’s exam procedure and standardisation model has always been the likelihood of a negative impact on high ability students from disadvantaged backgrounds, where previous school data brings down their expected grades. This would have been exacerbated by the lack of an accessible and open appeals process, whereby students could have provided evidence to justify higher marks.

Today’s announcement by the Department for Education that a ‘triple lock’ will be used to ease the impact for some students is welcome news for many, providing opportunities to change their estimated grade for a mark gained in a mock exam or by sitting a written exam in the autumn. Although this is still not ideal for many young people, it is better than no changes. The real question is, why has it taken so long for the DfE to realise that the standardisation model would create inequalities for those most disadvantaged in our society? It is only on seeing the political fallout from Scotland that changes have been made. Yet a wide range of social mobility charities and affected individuals have been highlighting the negative impacts for weeks.

One such student is Potential Plus UK member and trustee, Daniel Dipper, (pictured above) who has been advocating for changes to the exam procedure. His blog from June urged the DfE and Ofqual to consider the impact of the standardisation model on disadvantaged student. Urgent Improvement Needed: How the Exam Process Will Wreck the Chances of Thousands by Daniel Dipper, Year 13. 

On Tuesday, Daniel took part in Channel 4 news on this subject. You can see his interview 3 minutes into this thoughtful piece by Channel 4.

This year has been extraordinarily difficult for many in society and our young people are facing uncertain futures. Their grades will be with them for life. Consequently, Potential Plus UK implores colleges, universities and employers to recognise the shortcomings inherent in this year’s exam procedure, even with the announced amendments, and to take into consideration the social context within which highly able, disadvantaged students find themselves.