Pearson corrects education secretary over false BTEC downgrades claim

The awarding body for BTECs has corrected education secretary Gavin Williamson after he said two per cent of results for the vocational qualification were moderated down.

Williamson, who is already under fire after U-turning on allowing GCSE, A-level and vocational students to use centre-assessed grades, told BBC Breakfast this morning: “Two per cent of results of BTEC were moderated down from the teacher assessment.”

Yet Pearson, which has been moderating BTEC results submitted by schools and colleges, said the two per cent figuresrefers to results which were moderated upwards or downwards. They said only 0.5 per cent were downgraded – meaning three times as many results were upgraded as downgraded.

“We can confirm we have accepted the overwhelming majority of level 3 submitted grades and that where adjustments were made, this was on the basis of strong statistical evidence both upwards and downwards,” a spokesperson said.

Exam regulator Ofqual is currently working on allowing BTEC learners to use centre-assessed grades for their final results, after it was announced yesterday that calculated grades were to be ditched for A-level and GCSE students.

But there are increasing concerns a small number of BTEC learners are yet to receive their results, with Pearson saying the delay has been down to some centres submitting student information after their deadlines.

This year, schools were asked to submit all grades to Pearson for internal assessment, as well as any grades for units which had not been completed, which were accepted “with very little change”.

These grades formed part of the evidence, along with the previously completed assessments, to award final results to learners after assessments were cancelled due to COVID-19.

The awarding body said centres’ missing deadlines was “understandable” given the pressures and workload schools and colleges have faced from dealing with the new system for deciding results, and they “understand the frustration this must have caused” learners.

“We are working closely with the students and colleges involved to look into this urgently,” the spokesperson continued, “and provide any outstanding results as soon as we can”.

The universities admission service UCAS has indicated that, where applicable, university places for affected learners will be held until the university receives their result. Pearson has said it will contact universities or UCAS for students if necessary.

Anyone who has been impacted has been asked to send a direct message on Twitter to the @BTECstudents or @Edexcelstudents account.