‘It really could have screwed me over’: The students against awarding predicted grades
‘I ended up getting more than what was needed for my dream course but due to predictions, I needed to take a year out and reapply’
A-levels are cancelled, exams aren’t happening, and students are facing the prospect of being awarded their predicted grades.
Education secretary Gavin Williamson is revealing details of how grades will be awarded today and has said “every option is so much less good than the exam process”. It’s considered highly likely that whatever system is used will be based on predicted grades.
Here’s the problem: The use of predicted grades disadvantages BME and state schooled students, who are more likely to be predicted grades lower than what they actually achieve, research shows. Awarding all pupils their predicted grades will not only mean individual students miss out on universities they could have gotten into, but that top universities could miss out on diversity they sorely need.
If that system had been in place for these students, their uni experience would have been hugely different.
Serena, who just finished a MsC at UCL, says things would have been different for her if she’d just been given her predicted grades. “I had a chemistry teacher who would always predict me a C on every report, presumably just so she could look good when I got an A – that could have really screwed me over.
“I’m pretty sure at our school teachers got bonuses based on students progress over the years, so I had a chemistry teacher who would always put C/D or B/C in my reports to go home, despite the fact that I never got a C or a D, and am pretty sure I only got a B on homework once in two years. My parents would always be super disappointed in me when they got reports.
“I don’t know what my official predicted grades sent to UCAS were, but I’m pretty sure this teacher (and some others) would put down the lowest they could feasibly predict so they’d look like great teachers when their students did better than predicted. I got an offer from UCL for AAA, but ended up getting A*AA in my exams.”
Alisha is currently in her third year at Oxford Brookes. She found her predicted grades changed her uni experience in a different way after personal circumstances led to a scramble to change her uni plans. “I was a really good student – all my predicted grades were As and in every mock paper and class test. I was getting As and A*s consistently, but then at the start of my exams we found out my dad had cancer.”
Alisha continued: “I bombed all my exams and ended up getting BCC. It wasn’t terrible but I knew I could do way better, so I had to go through clearing.
“They’re not even a true representation, because in my sixth form you could literally just be like ‘hi I wanna apply to X uni so I need these predicted grades, can you give me those?’ And the teachers would be like ‘yeah sure whatever’.”
Dundee student Cameron’s predicted grades meant he couldn’t apply the course he wanted to study – so his only option was to reapply the next year with his real grades. “I got B’s as my predicted grades but needed one A to get into my preferred course,” he says.
“This meant when applying to universities, I was only able to apply to university courses who’s entry requirements fitted within my predictions. It was really hard as I knew I could have achieved much better results and that I would achieve these come May when I sit the final exams. I ended up getting more than what was needed for my dream course but due to predictions, I needed to take a year out and reapply.”
“I feel really strongly about what’s going on just now because a lot of people will be in the same boat as what I was. The only variable is that they don’t have an opportunity to sit those exams and prove the predictions wrong.”