Results fiasco U-turn: your questions answered

In what must be one of the highest profile U-turns in education history, the government said today that students will be awarded teacher grades, with Ofqual’s controversial results-by-algorithm ditched.

There’s been a lot to keep up with, and new details are emerging quickly. So here’s a hopefully helpful round-up of what you need to know. (If you have a question, drop us a line at and we’ll try our best to answer it).


1. What happens if your grade was higher than your CAG?

The headline announcement today is that pupils will be awarded their centre assessment grades, or will keep their calculated grade (whichever is higher).

Essentially no pupils’ results will go down as a result of the announcement, they can only go up.


2. Which subjects does this apply to?

The government has confirmed this applied for both A and AS levels (awarded on Thursday), and GCSEs, due to be awarded this week.

This doesn’t apply for BTECs, but the education secretary Gavin Williamson has said he’s working on it.

Ofqual added it has asked awarding organisations with vocational and technical qualifications that used a standardised approach to “review” this. They said it’s “likely to mean a small proportion of VTQ results will be reissued”.


3. Why has this happened now, and not last week?

Williamson told journalists today that the massive issues only became “absolutely apparent” over the weekend (when more details of Ofqual’s approach was made public). He also suggested he’d not seen much of the results, nor Ofqual’s algorithm, before they were published publicly (which seems quite the admission).


4. So what happens for pupils who’ve already missed out on university places?

As previously reported, CAGs were much more generous than results received by pupils in previous years. So offering them to pupils now will cause huge headaches for universities – many of whom had already accepted/turned away pupils based on their calculated grades.

Unis also had a cap on places this year, which was meant to stop them poaching pupils amid uncertainty over numbers amid coronavirus.

But the government has ditched this, saying unis can now “expand the number of places” – meaning more places are likely to be available, however the government was unable to guarantee that every A-level student will get their place. So some students are still likely to be disappointed.

UCAS has said that unis and colleges need the CAGs before they can make a decision, and it’s working to get the grades for affected students “as swiftly and securely as possible”.

The government also said on Monday evening that it will set “clear expectation’ unis honour all offers made and met, and students who have accepted an offer can ‘release themselves’ if they have another offer reinstated.


5. Can students appeal?

Yes, it seems pupils will still be able to appeal based on the original policy, for instance where an error had been made during the process.

However, offering students the chance to appeal based on their mock grade being higher – part of the government’s last-minute “triple lock policy” – is a goner. Williamson said this is because “we’ll see a large number of youngsters get a much higher grade than anticipated”.

When asked if pupils can appeal their CAGs, Williamson said there would be more information to come on appeals.

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  1. What about BTEC external units? My students were given grades for their first external unit. There were no historical grades in our centre for the unit, as it’s new to us (and has only been sat twice nationally). I did provide a rank order but this has been largely ignored. Thoroughly baffled. Expected them to say not enough data to award!