Hundreds of A-level students in the UK headed to Westminster for further protests against the recent downgrading of exam results. Around 300 students peacefully demonstrated in Parliament Square, outside the Department for Education in Great Smith Street and opposite Downing Street.
Many of the protesters told the PA news agency the algorithm used to determine their final grades after exams were cancelled due to the pandemic had unfairly penalised students from underprivileged backgrounds.
Daisy Dewar, an 18-year-old care leaver, lost out on a scholarship to study medicine at the University of Nottingham after her grades were reduced from A*AA to BCC.
She told PA: “My future has basically just been ripped out of my hands for no reason, I think because of my class and my household income, I think that’s the reason I’ve been affected so badly.
“I’ve had to overcome massive obstacles and school for me, I wanted to create a better future for myself from what I had been dealt.
“I don’t really have a family, my mum died… so I worked really hard to create a better future… it’s all been thrown back in my face.
“Now I’m not really sure what to do, it’s really hard when you’ve put your absolute everything into trying to get better.”
She added: “They’ve said we can appeal but the grades I can appeal with if they had just given in the first place, I would have had my place. It’s a bit too little, too late.”
The demonstrators called for Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to resign, as well as for universities to honour the offers they had previously made to students.
One of the organisers was Ted Mellow, 18, from Wood Green, north London. He told PA: “Everywhere you look, people are either angry or confused and, quite frankly, that’s the Government’s fault.
“We’re not fighting so that everyone gets A*s and As because we know that’s unrealistic, we’re fighting so that people get the grades they deserve.”
Demonstrators marched with signs criticising exams regulator Ofqual and the Government, with some featuring reminders to vote at the next general election. Bea Cornwell, 18, from Cambridge, was hoping to study French, Spanish and Arabic at Durham but lost her place after her grades were reduced.
She told PA: “I was predicted on Ucas AAA, I got an AA in French and politics and a B in Spanish, but in my January mock I was a mark off an A.
“The triple lock is BS because Durham already decided to reject me, they rejected me at 4pm on results day and I tried to reach out to them and said I’m appealing, I shouldn’t have got this grade, they said we don’t care if you appeal.”
The experience of the A-level students has prompted concerns about the fate of GCSE students, expected to receive their own results on Thursday. A science teacher with GCSE pupils in London, who did not wish to give her name, told PA: “This is going to be devastating particularly for the working class, including black and minority ethnic students.
“I’ve seen that up to two million GCSE kids are going to get downgraded potentially so I’m so scared for them, my heart is breaking for these kids.”