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Disadvantaged students could lose out under latest exam guidance

30 June 2020 | last updated: 29 April 2021

UCU warned that disadvantaged students who are unhappy with their results could still miss out under new guidance.

The union was responding to guidance from Ofqual on the appeals process for A-level, AS and GCSE results received over the summer, and decisions on how exams will be run in the autumn.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'Research has shown that disadvantaged students from lower socio-economic backgrounds are more likely to be predicted lower grades than their more affluent counterparts. Therefore, any appeals process that does not take this into account risks entrenching these structural inequalities.

'The only option for students who are unhappy with their results is to spin the roulette wheel with high-stakes exams, which will not be the right fit for all and may disadvantage those with special educational needs. We urge colleges and universities to make greater use of contextual data so students progress according to their achievements and, crucially, their potential, rather than their background.

'The pandemic has highlighted the problems with relying heavily on exams and the government should be looking to a more balanced assessment process in the future.'