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Ofqual was told that its algorithm was "doomed" a month ago, but "ignored the warnings".


Gavin Williamson was warned that the exam algorithm was "doomed" and that hundreds of students could get the wrong results, a Senior Department for Education source said.

According to the source, former chief executive Sir Jon Coles wrote to Mr Williamson six weeks ago to express his concerns about the Ofqual algorithm, claiming that when applied to GCSE and A-level ratings, it would be 75 percent accurate at best.

In his letter, Sir Jon also said that using predicted grades for some small groups of students while using the algorithm for large groups would lead to injustice.

It is believed that Mr Williamson was on a video call with Sir Jon in mid-July to discuss his concerns but decided to continue with the algorithm amid concerns about the delay in the inflation rate of the results, reports The Times.

However, the education secretary said he only fully knew how unfair the "over the weekend" algorithm was.

Mr Williamson is now "in his last life" after his humiliating exam fiasco and will be fired if the reopening of Boris Johnson's schools is botched, ministers said.

On condition of anonymity, a consultant said it was obvious that the algorithm would fail between June 1 and June 12 as soon as schools submit their teacher-assessed grades (Photo: protesters in Newcastle, August 18).

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said he only fully knew how unfair the algorithm was "over the weekend".

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said he only fully knew how unfair the algorithm was "over the weekend".

Today, a consultant who helped develop Ofqual software said there was "always an understanding that there will be winners and losers".

Ofqual has always said his system is as "fair as possible" – despite the fact that so many student grades have been downgraded.

However, on condition of anonymity, the consultant said it was obvious that the algorithm would fail between June 1 and June 12, once schools submit their teacher-assessed grades.

"There was a very specific point where it was doomed," he said.

“There was clearly always some potential that this, by its very nature, could explode.

"It wasn't even necessary to discuss this point because it was always in the background."

Outside advisors had told Ofqual that the formula for deciding on English students' A-Level and GCSE scores was "volatile" and there was a risk of erratic results, sources told The Guardian.

But the formula was held until the government had to announce an embarrassing U-turn on Monday that scrapped the algorithm.

Cabinet colleagues now believe Mr Williamson, who is desperately trying to hold on to his job, cannot survive yet another mishap if he also botches the Prime Minister's promise to reopen schools in England in time for the new term in September.

Mr Williamson is now in his final life after his humiliating exam fiasco and will be fired if Boris Johnson's reopening of schools is botched, ministers said

Mr Williamson is now in his final life after his humiliating exam fiasco and will be fired if Boris Johnson's reopening of schools is botched, ministers said

While the coronavirus crisis worsened at the end of March, Williamson had warned Ofqual in a letter to "ensure as far as possible that the qualification standards are adhered to and the distribution of grades follows a profile similar to that in previous years".

Growing cost of moving up to A-Level: Top universities call for cash to cope with student influx and call for medical education ceiling to be lifted while ministers face a £ 140 million bailout for poor facilities, that are no longer full

Top universities have urged the government to allocate additional funding to accommodate more students and raise the cap on the number of medical students amid fears ministers face a £ 140 million bailout for lower-class institutions.

Thousands of students are scrambling to get a place at their university of choice after a screeching U-turn in A-level scores, meaning they now have better grades.

But top schools are struggling with sheer demand as the 55,000 who have accepted a place at another university or taken a new clearing course are now giving up those decisions to try to make their top choices.

A number of universities like Cambridge have already announced that some students will have to postpone until next year.

The government had previously asked universities to take into account the offers they had made to students, but the vice chancellors were in talks with ministers last night to obtain additional funding to accommodate thousands of additional students.

In the meantime, there are fears that students leaving low-tier institutions to get to their first choice could leave them financially vulnerable. Research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) suggests this could cost £ 140 million.

In a sticky note today, a think tank warned that while leading universities would now be "flooded" with students, many sub-universities risked losing a significant portion of their admissions, which could be "financially crippling".

It is because the government has been asked to enroll more students in medical school, where places are very competitive and much of the cost of training doctors is borne by the taxpayer.

School Secretary Nick Gibb has been identified by a senior Tory source as being under pressure to keep inflation down.

A source in Whitehall said there was an intergovernmental and bipartisan agreement to moderate the audit results, rather than just pressure from ministers.

Labor shadow attorney Charlie Falconer said the algorithms were unlawful and ministers should have been aware of the 2009 law, which sets out Ofqual's obligations and anti-discrimination laws.

Mr Williamson was increasingly being urged to resign just weeks before schools returned full-time in England.

Tory MPs are concerned about the government's handling of the results debacle, viewing it as the latest in a long line of mistakes made during the coronavirus crisis.

A senior Tory MP told MailOnline: "There is no question" that Mr Johnson, who is vacationing in Scotland, should "show his face" during the crisis.

"I can see why he doesn't want to be around for Gavin Williamson to take all the flak, but it would stabilize the ship a bit if he did show up," they said.

Matt Hancock suggested that the Secretary of Education had not been fired for his role in implementing Johnson's vision of reopening schools in England.

"The big focus is on reopening schools early next month, an incredibly important task," the health minister told Sky News. & # 39;I don't think we should be distracted from this task now. We need to focus on that. & # 39;

Mr Hancock also slammed calls for Mr Williamson to step down, claiming that ministers are "trying to do their best" during the pandemic.

Today, Mr. Williamson fully supported Ofqual with A-level support just a day after being guilty of the audit oversight for the government mayhem.

The Minister of Education faces growing demands to end his treatment of the series of results, but has stated that he would like to remain in the role in the future.

During a number of interviews, Cabinet Minister Ofqual had not clearly supported Ofqual. In less than 24 hours before the students received their GCSE results, Mr. Williamson's department signaled a change in policy.

It said, "As the government has made clear, we have full confidence in Ofqual and its leadership in its role as an independent regulator and continue to work closely with Ofqual to deliver fair results to our young people at this unprecedented time."

The department's statement also noted that the results of the U-Turn-Over exam, which abandoned a controversial algorithm in favor of teacher-predicted grades, ended up being decided by Ofqual rather than the Minister of Education.

"We made the decision to switch from moderated grades to centered grades," said the department.

The dramatic change in tone is likely to spark speculation that the under-attack minister read the riot from Mr Johnson.

The prime minister has been increasingly pressured by his own MPs to shorten his vacation time in order to take personal control of the government's educational problems.

The Prime Minister is not expected to return to number 10 by next week, but the A-Level and GCSE exams debacle means he is under pressure to intervene.

Mr Johnson's political opponents have asked him to return early on claiming the Prime Minister cannot bother getting back to work during the biggest audit crisis of a generation.

Demand for Mr Williamson's resignation continues to grow just weeks before schools in England return full-time.

Boris Johnson is urged by Tory MPs to halt his vacation to get a grip on the crisis

Boris Johnson is urged by Tory MPs to halt his vacation to get a grip on the crisis

Youth protests in front of the Ministry of Education on August 16. Nearly 280,000 students saw their A-level grades being downgraded by a government algorithm

Youth protests in front of the Ministry of Education on August 16. Nearly 280,000 students saw their A-level grades being downgraded by a government algorithm

Students take part in a protest in Leeds' Millennium Square after thousands of high school graduates see their results downgraded

Students take part in a protest in Millennium Square, Leeds after thousands of high school graduates see their results downgraded

Ofqual's test results algorithm was "UNLAWFUL," Labor claims in a letter to Gavin Williamson after the under-fire Secretary of Education finally gave the regulator support

Labor said the algorithm used by Ofqual's test scores to downgrade scores to A-Level was "illegal".

Kate Green, the shadow education minister, and Lord Falconer argued that the ministers and the beleaguered regulator were aware of at least three violations of the law in the standardization formula used.

In a letter to Ofqual and under attack Gavin Williamson, they said the turn I should never have come back to it so late as Ofqual and the SoS (State Secretary for Education) were fully aware that the standardization formula used was illegal. "

They wrote: “The chaos, confusion and injustice of the way Ofqual has acted under the direction of the SoS over the past few weeks and the way the UK government has dealt with the A-level results , was a complete fiasco for thousands of young people through an enormous amount of stress, worry and uncertainty due to government incompetence. "

"No comparison is valid if the system does not adequately measure the student's performance," they added.

Lord Falconer also claimed that there are still questions to be answered regarding the use of an "illegal" standardization algorithm in GCSE results which will be released tomorrow.

A spokesperson for the Education Department said: “As the government has made it clear, we have full confidence in Ofqual and its leadership in its role as an independent regulator, and we continue to work closely with Ofqual to deliver fair results for our young people at these unprecedented time.

"We agreed on the decision to switch from moderated notes to centered notes."

Tory MPs are increasingly concerned about the government's handling of the results fiasco, viewing it as the latest in a long line of casual mistakes made during the coronavirus crisis.

A senior Tory MP told MailOnline: "There is no question" Mr Johnson should "show his face" during the crisis.

"I can see why he wouldn't want to be around for Gavin Williamson to take all of the black, but it would stabilize the ship a bit when he shows up," they said.

Acting Lib Dems Leader Sir Ed Davey said: “On the steps of Downing Street, the Prime Minister said it was his job to fill the gap and that the money would stand with him when it comes to his plans to implement.

“The Prime Minister cannot expect us to take his words seriously if he doesn't make the effort to get back to work during the biggest audit crisis of a generation.

"Universities are in trouble and thousands of students still have no idea where they will be in the fall. The prime minister must take responsibility for this terrible mess."

Labor shadow health minister Justin Madders had previously compared the prime minister to the famous character "Where's Wally" and told the Daily Star, "Where's Wally?" More like where is THE Wally? & # 39;

The call on the Prime Minister to cancel his vacation has also hit social media as Twitter users used the hashtags "Where's Boris" and "Boris Has Failed Britain" to criticize him for his absence.

Mr Johnson was reportedly seen in Scotland wearing a bobble hat and sunglasses to avoid being recognized in the ongoing exam crisis while on vacation with partner Carrie Symonds.

Despite Tory's growing discomfort with the performance of some Cabinet Ministers, Mr Johnson is said to oppose calls for an autumn reshuffle, with a major reshuffle from his top team expected to be delayed until the new year.

The series of results unfolded after graduation was calculated using an algorithm developed by Ofqual.

However, the algorithm meant that 40 percent of the grades were downgraded from those predicted by teachers, causing widespread anger among students and parents.

Mr Williamson, known by some in Westminster as Private Pike after the unfortunate character on the TV show Dad & # 39; s Army, had originally endorsed the algorithm but then did an about-face earlier this week as he said the grades would instead based on teachers' estimates.

In yesterday's conversation with LBC Radio, the Minister of Education blamed Ofqual for the chaos.

When told that Ofqual had "failed," Williamson said, "We got into a situation where Ofqual failed to deliver the system that we had calmed down and that we believed was right."

When asked if he had any confidence in the regulator, Williamson said, "It's pretty clear that there have been some real challenges with what Ofqual was able to deliver."

When asked if he had any confidence in the main regulator Sally Collier, Williamson said, “Our focus, and what I expect from Ofqual, is to make sure they deliver the grades teens need over … this week and over the next few weeks , and ensure that the appeal process is properly administered and that people receive the grades they have worked for and deserve. & # 39;

Mr Williamson's hopes of holding on were heightened this morning after he was defended by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

When asked if he would have considered resigning if he had been in Mr. Williamson's shoes, Mr. Hancock told BBC Radio 4 Today, "Well, I think Gavin has faced these very difficult challenges and did did his best in very difficult circumstances. "

Did Gavin's "sinister" photo op contain a warning to his enemies? MEPs believe the Education Minister posed with "a whip on his desk" to remind "circling vultures" that he used to be the chief whip and "knows where the bodies are buried".

Posted by Jack Maidment, Deputy Political Editor at MailOnline

Tory MPs believe Gavin Williamson sent a warning to his enemies as he posed for photos in his office with a whip on his desk after announcing the U-turn in A-level results.

Conservative backers believe the whip "wasn't there by accident" when Mr. Williamson attended the photo op.

They believe that it was likely a reminder for MPs and Boris Johnson that as a former chief whip he knew "where the bodies are buried" and that it would be unwise to criticize or fire him.

Mr. Williamson served as chief whip for Theresa May's administration from July 2016 to November 2017 when he was tasked with enforcing party discipline. As a result, he is likely to know the details of colleagues' previous indiscretions.

Gavin Williamson posed for photos in his Department of Education office yesterday after announcing the U-turn in A-level results

Gavin Williamson posed for photos in his Department of Education office yesterday after announcing the U-turn in A-level results

The recording of a whip (lower right in the picture) was interpreted by Tory MPs as a message to the critics of the Secretary of Education

The recording of a whip (lower right in the picture) was interpreted by Tory MPs as a message to the critics of the Secretary of Education

The presence of the whip in the photos, as well as a small red book about it, sparked widespread comments on social media.

Chief whips are designed to hold small black books, similar to the red one pictured, which they fill with information to put pressure on MPs who may be contemplating rebellion.

Tory MPs believe the inclusion of the whip – and the red book – was "not accidental".

A conservative backbencher told MailOnline: “Why was there a picture with a whip on the desk? It wasn't a coincidence.

'Is that a reminder of Boris knowing where the bodies are buried? I don't know, but it won't have been an accident.

& # 39; It's a reminder that he was the chief whip. It was extraordinary. & # 39;

The MP added: "It was not there by accident."

A Tory MP told the Telegraph that the whip's pickup was "definitely a message to the Prime Minister".

Another backbencher had told the newspaper that the "vultures orbited" Mr. Williamson about his handling of the chaos of A-Level results.

But they insisted that Mr. Williamson is one "Masters at Finding Somebody to Throw Under a Bus".

MPs believe Mr Williamson, who played a key role in Johnson's Tory leadership bid, is likely to stay in the cabinet because the prime minister wants to avoid creating a "very effective enemy" that it is "Much better as a fixer or schemer" than as a minister.

Government sources said Mr. Johnson valued loyalty and that Mr. Williamson had been with the Prime Minister "from the start".

So many Tory MPs believe that Mr Johnson will not be made to get rid of his education secretary.

Now the unions want to revise the exams next year: The NEW 2021 calls for less content for the Abitur and GCSE because the students find the tests at the end of the year "too stressful".

By James Robinson for MailOnline

Education union leaders today called for a revision of the GCSE and A-level exams for next year amid fears that coronavirus could cut school contact time and called for a shift in focus from year-end exams – because students are taking them perceive it as "too stressful".

The heads of the National Education Union (NEU), the UK's largest teachers union, have written to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson warning that new spikes in Covid-19 could lead to "another school loss".

The union has warned that the government should already have contingency plans in place and has called In the hope that if the exams change next year, the heads of education can build confidence in the grades awarded.

This includes reducing the content assessed in the GCSE and A-Level exams of 2021 and working with teachers to develop a "robust" system of moderated, center-assessed grades.

The NEU also wants an independent review of assessment methodology for GCSEs and A-Levels, and warns that the current system relies too heavily on year-end exams, adding to student anxiety.

The calls come after the government's dramatic U-turn earlier this week in which a controversial algorithm system was scrapped after thousands of students lowered their teacher-graded grades – mostly based on their school's previous results.

In their letter, the NEW bosses Dr. Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, last week's A-Level results controversy "must never happen again".

The NEW bosses Kevin Courtney and Dr. Mary Bousted have written to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson warning that new spikes in Covid-19 could lead to "another school loss".

In the letter, Courtney and Dr. Bousted (pictured) that the government should already be creating contingency plans and called for changes to the audit next year

The NEW bosses Kevin Courtney (left) and Dr. Mary Bousted (right) wrote to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson warning that new spikes in Covid-19 could lead to "another school loss".

The union has warned the government (pictured: Education Secretary Gavin Williamson) it should already be putting contingency plans in place and has called for changes to exams for next year in hopes that education leaders can build confidence in the grades awarded

The union has warned the government (pictured: Education Secretary Gavin Williamson) it should already be putting contingency plans in place and has called for changes to exams for next year in hopes that education leaders can build confidence in the grades awarded

Militant teaching union threatens to keep schools closed in September

Militant teaching unions, which openly boasted of a "victory" over the government's turnaround to bring students back before summer, threatened to keep schools closed in September.

The heads of the National Education Union (NEU), the UK's largest teachers union, say it may be "impossible" for "many" schools to reopen at the start of the new school year.

Ministers admitted that they were unable to force schools to reopen after the coronavirus pandemic.

School Secretary Nick Gibb said ministers could not "decide" to open schools while Dr. Mary Bousted, joint head of the NEU, agreed that the government "cannot carry out its threats".

In a taped Zoom meeting seen by the Daily Telegraph, Dr. Also bousted members that they could not trust the government's current instructions and called for a decision to bring all students back so they can be admitted on site.

In the letter, they said, “It is clear to the National Education Union that the government needs to make major changes to exams over the next year to build confidence that the grades awarded, which determine young people's chances in life, will be properly recognized and reward their achievements.

"You should now work on examining various possible scenarios and developing contingency plans in the event that more schools and universities are closed."

They added, “The current over-reliance on exams at the end of the course increases student anxiety and does not provide a fair reflection on what students can achieve.

"All options should be considered to ensure that young people are rewarded for their achievements, supported to reach their potential, and not held back by their background."

The demands of the NEU, which threatened to keep schools closed in September earlier this month if coronavirus safety standards were not met, came after top universities urged the government to raise additional funding for more students.

Universities also called for the cap on the number of medical students to be lifted amid fears ministers face a £ 3 billion bailout.

Thousands of students are struggling to get their first choice places at their university after the government turned A-level scores upside down, meaning they now have the grades to get into their first choice places.

But top schools are struggling with sheer demand as the 55,000 who have accepted a place at another university or taken a new clearing course are now giving up those decisions to try to make their top choices.

Codsall Community High School students protest outside the constituency office of their local MP, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson

Codsall Community High School students protest outside the constituency office of their local MP, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson

A number of universities like Cambridge have already announced that some students will have to postpone until next year.

The government had previously asked universities to take into account the offers they had made to students, but the vice chancellors were in talks with ministers last night to obtain additional funding to accommodate thousands of additional students.

The top official in the Department of Education faces an ax over a series of school disasters

By Claire Ellicot, Political Correspondent for the Daily Mail

The education ministry top official could stand in line for the sack after ministers raised concerns over a number of fiascoes.

Jonathan Slater has been the division's permanent secretary since 2016 and works under four education secretaries.

However, his future is reportedly in doubt – despite the government's refusal that he will leave his post.

Ministers are said to be concerned about the recent failure to reopen schools before summer and the grading of exams.

Should he leave, Mr. Slater would be the fourth permanent secretary to step down within seven months.

Sir Philip Rutnam left the Home Office in January after sensationally accusing Home Secretary Priti Patel of bullying. He also said he would bring the government to a labor court.

Sir Simon McDonald said in June that he would be leaving the Foreign Office in the fall, and Sir Richard Heaton said earlier that summer he would be back at the Justice Department.

Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill was fired earlier this year – and will receive a payout of £ 250,000. He is scheduled to step down in September and his replacement has not yet been announced.

Helen McNamara, who was responsible for decency and ethics in the Cabinet Office prior to her promotion to de facto assistant cabinet secretary, is slated to take up a position as permanent secretary for a large Whitehall division.

In the meantime, there are fears that students leaving low-tier institutions to get to their first choice could leave them financially vulnerable. Research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) suggests this could cost £ 140 million.

They previously warned that the total loss to the university sector could be anywhere from £ 3 billion to £ 19 billion.

In another sticky note today, the think tank warned that while leading universities would now be "flooded" with students, many sub-universities risked losing a significant portion of their admissions, which could be "financially crippling".

The report's authors, Jack Britton and Ben Waltmann, said, “Lower-ranking universities could join the pool of potential students who have not received offers or have not yet applied.

“These students will have much better grades than usual this year, and many might be interested in going to university given the exceptionally difficult job market.

“Attracting these students could help the lowest-ranking universities avoid huge losses. This would also be a new challenge as many of these students may not be prepared for their courses, especially because they missed the experience of actually taking their A-level exams. & # 39;

It is because the government has been asked to enroll more students in medical school, where places are very competitive and much of the cost of training doctors is borne by the taxpayer.

Institutions are currently in trouble with the number of places in medical schools being limited due to costs imposed by the government – the amount of doctor training fees exceeds the amount of fees paid by students – and there are restrictions on NHS internships.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News this morning that he had accepted calls to increase student spaces and promised the government was working on the problem.

A number of students planning to study medicine have had their grades lowered by the standardized algorithm.

The government has lifted the cap on other subjects to allow universities to accept more students but keep it for medicine and dentistry.

Pressed Education Secretary Gavin Williamson's U-turn means students now have significantly better grades and can try to get into the school of their choice.

Universities UK has written a letter to Mr. Williamson to get "urgent assurances" that he is talking to the Department of Health about increasing the number of medical school places from the current 7,500, as reported by the BBC.

The letter also states: "The role of universities in training the medical workforce is essential for all regions and nations of the UK, as our members' response to the Covid-19 pandemic clearly shows."

The Royal College of GPs and the British Medical Association have also supported calls for more medical places.

A number of universities like Cambridge have already announced that some students will have to postpone until next year

A number of universities like Cambridge have already announced that some students will have to postpone until next year

Dr. However, Helena McKeown, Chair of the BMA Board of Representatives, said additional seats would require more funding and support from the government.

She said: “The BMA has long been committed to widening participation in medicine so that everyone with the ability and desire to become doctors can do so. The medical workforce needs to be far more responsive to the diverse patient population they serve. After the government's U-turn earlier this week, we have urged medical schools to review the applications of those who have been denied places due to the unfair ranking of the early process.

“There is a huge shortage of doctors in the UK, so it makes sense to increase the number of doctors in training. However, this needs to continue with support and funding for both the university sector and the NHS.

“Additional students need more clinical internships during their medical school, more places in the endowment program for new doctors, and ultimately the need to create more jobs when they become fully qualified.

"We cannot afford to have new doctors going out of work in five or ten years."

The University and College Union (UCU) and the National Union of Students (NUS) have also signed a joint letter to Mr Williamson warning against lifting the student ceiling – with the aim of preventing institutions from recruiting too much To make up for lost revenue as a result of Covid-19 – would "remove one of the few interventions the government has taken to mitigate the financial impact of the Covid crisis on universities".

The letter said: “While it is not yet clear how exactly domestic students will be distributed across higher education, it is widely expected that institutions will move as far as possible to accommodate their offerings.

"This is likely to lead to increased recruitment from high-pay institutions at the expense of low-pay universities and will shift the financial pain from the Covid crisis to many of the institutions that play an important role in expanding participation and social mobility."

The British Medical Association supports cap lifting in medical school seats

Dr. Helena McKeown, Chair of the BMA Board of Representatives and BMA Head of Education, Training and Workforce, said:

& # 39; The BMA has long been committed to expanding participation in medicine so that everyone who has the ability and desire to become doctors can do so. The medical workforce needs to be far more responsive to the diverse patient population they serve. After the government's U-turn earlier this week, we have urged medical schools to review the applications of those who have been denied places due to the unfair ranking of the early process.

“There is a huge shortage of doctors in the UK, so it makes sense to increase the number of doctors in training. However, this needs to continue with support and funding for both the university sector and the NHS.

“Additional students need more clinical internships during their medical school, more places in the endowment program for new doctors, and ultimately the need to create more jobs when they become fully qualified.

"We cannot afford to have new doctors going out of work in five or ten years."

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