A-level results day

Labour will scrap university offers based on predicted grades

Angela Rayner: Labour Secretary of state for Education

With A level results day tomorrow, and GCSE results day the week after, for some stress levels are high and I still remember the nerve-racking drive to pick up my GCSE results only this time last summer. 

However recently Labour have suggested they would scrap the system of university places being offered on the basis of predicted grades and bring in a system of applying after results. Yet this brings its own challenges, as a huge adjustment of the school calendar would be needed. 

Labour’s ‘fairer’ system of post-application hopes to control the surge in unconditional offers across the higher education sector and bring an end to clearing. They claim that the current system unfairly penalises disadvantaged students and those from minority backgrounds. 

Katherine Sellgren’s article from the BBCcontains research by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills in 2011 found only 51.7% of all predictions were accurate, with black applicants having the lowest percentage accuracy with only 39.1% of grades accurately predicted. Labour aim to “put students at the heart of the system” making it a vehicle for social justice; giving students from disadvantaged backgrounds an equal chance. 

This proposed system would eliminate some of the guesswork of predicted grades and would mean universities could base offers on actual achievements. Yet this significant complex change would mean a calendar re-adjustment and prove difficult for some students to apply when schools and colleges are closed in August. 

Yet predicted grades are not the only part of the application process, and Labour have focused on the most uncertain aspect. Personal statements, references, interviews, and auditions can be just as important when deciding to make an offer. Universities should take a holistic view of applicant’s achievements and potential. 

Another possible solution would be the return of AS-levels which counted toward the first year of the full A level, this allowing universities to use actual results in considering applications. But the reversal of the riddance of AS-levels seems a backwards step. 

So, with A-level results day tomorrow, there is much to consider as proposed new systems are constantly being discussed, with education always an important political discussion point. 

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