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14 August 2020

A majority of UK voters think that teachers alone should set this year’s exam results

Across every UK nation and region, a majority believe that grades should be set by assessment, not moderation.

By Stephen Bush

A majority of people believe that the assessments of teachers and lecturers should be used as the sole basis for determining the grades of school pupils whose exams were cancelled due to Covid-19, a poll for the New Statesman by Redfield & Wilton Strategies has found.

Fifty two per cent of people either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement “grades this year should be calculated solely on the judgement of teachers and/or lecturers, without moderation by Ofqual [England’s exam regulator] or another third-party organisation”, with just 15 per cent disagreeing or disagreeing strongly.

Using the assessments of teachers commands majority support among every nation and region of the United Kingdom, as well as among supporters of every political party. That’s despite 45 per cent of people either agreeing or strongly agreeing that schools will inflate exam results in order to perform better in rankings, with just 18 per cent disagreeing or strongly disagreeing.

In a boost for the embattled Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, however, a plurality of voters either agree or strongly agree that students should be allowed to use their mock GCSE or A-level grades in lieu of exam grades, with 46 per cent of voters either agreeing or strongly agreeing with the policy, and just 13 per cent disagreeing. That pattern holds across every nation and region of the UK, as well as among supporters of every political party.

[see also: Gavin Williamson is a bystander in England’s exams row – but not for the reason you think]

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When asked to describe their preferred solution, 37 per cent of people say that students should be given the grades their teachers have assessed for them, while 29 per cent believe that exams should take place as normal when schools return. Just 15 per cent favour moderation of exams using past school performance.

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The poll was conducted of a representative sample of 2,000 voters by Redfield & Wilton Strategies, on behalf of the New Statesman.