Tuesday 10 August 2021 / 12:29 PM Education / Kate Green

Labour warns Conservatives have opened the door to unfairness as Ofqual data shows soaring private school grades

Data released by Ofqual – the Government’s exams regulator – today shows that private schools have seen their grades soar compared to state schools this year, while Black students, those on free school meals and in areas of high disadvantage were more likely to miss out on the top grades compared to their peers. 

The increase in A grades awarded today is 50 per cent higher among private schools compared with secondary comprehensives, and more than double the increase seen among students at Sixth Form Colleges.

Meanwhile, the Government data shows that Black students, those on free school meals or living in areas of high deprivation were less likely to achieve the top A or A* grades than their more advantaged peers.

The Conservatives’ last minute decision making on exams opened the door to this widening of the attainment gap. While flexibility to account for disruption was necessary, the accompanying lack of a central approach has seen some students taking over 20 exams while others have done just a couple.

Ahead of results day, research from The Sutton Trust warned this was advantaging private schools who were more likely to be giving their students advance notice of questions, or ‘open book’ assessments, while teachers in deprived areas were most likely to report the support received to award grades was insufficient.

Kate Green MP, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said:

“Labour congratulates all students receiving their grades today and thanks the incredible education staff who worked tirelessly to award these results.

“Yet the Conservatives’ chaotic last-minute decision making has opened the door to unfairness. The increase in A grades is 50 per cent higher among private schools, while Black students, students on free school meals and in areas of high deprivation are being increasingly out performed by their more advantaged peers.

“The Government’s measly recovery plan will see half a million students leave school this summer without any support to recover lost learning or boost their wellbeing. Labour has set out a comprehensive Children’s Recovery Plan with opportunities for all young people to learn, play and develop post-pandemic. The Conservatives’ need to match Labour’s ambition for our children’s learning and their futures.”