Hundreds attend Newcastle demonstration against the government’s A-level fiasco
Students demanded the resignation of the Education Secretary
Hundreds of young people in Newcastle held a “victory demonstration” on Tuesday as part of a national protest against what they regard as the government’s corrupt handling of A-level exam results.
The protest was held at 5pm at Grey’s Monument as angry students-to-be chanted for the resignation of Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, whose public confidence has imploded in recent days.
The government performed a U-turn to drop the controversial OFQUAL algorithm that lowered 40% of students’ grades and left many devastated as their university plans were shattered.
Students in the north were particularly outraged to discover that postcodes were used when adjusting grades, often meaning that those from deprived areas would be more likely to have their grades lowered.
Students were joined by Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery, former Chairman of the Labour Party, who told the crowd: “These changes are intentionally forced upon the ordinary people in working-class communities up and down the country – people are going to suffer as a result of the algorithm.”
The government announced it was dropping OFQUAL’s grades following increasing pressure after decisions already taken by the Welsh and Scottish governments.
“People were going to suffer, and young people said “no”. They refused to allow that to happen and now the government have had to make a U-turn”.
The demonstrators, who maintained social distancing and wore facemasks, held placards with phrases such as “I am not my postcode” and “Our students deserve better, so do we”.
During the demonstration, the crowd heard from Charlotte, a GCSE student currently awaiting results on Thursday, who told us before the U-turn she was already expecting results day to be upsetting: “It’s caused huge panic and stress for everyone. Even with the U-turn, it’s not good enough that all this stress and upset has been caused.
“It needs to be realised that there are still some people who deserved to get into university but just haven’t.”
With some students still on the search or feeling unsure about a snap decision to come to the area, Lavery encouraged students that Newcastle was the place to be next year.
“It’s a great place to live, we’ve got the seaside, we’ve got the countryside, and allegedly, the finest people in the country. What’s not to love?”