Do you need “A Levels” & GCSE’s to get a job?

Good grades are no longer the criteria for recruitment for jobs, but all-round problem-solving talent is eagerly sought after Coronavirus in the marketplace.

by Victor Cherubim

Students in the UK and perhaps in many other countries did not sit exams this year because schools were closed following the pandemic lockdown.

In England and Wales, unlike in Scotland students were given grades estimated by their teachers on their past performance at school.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, who performed as Chief Whip of the Conservative during the days of Prime Minister Theresa May when every MP’s vote counted, was rewarded with the post of Defence Secretary. This seat was too hot for him and Boris Johnson moved him over to Education.

Today, an uproar by MP’s, both from the Conservative Governing Party and the Opposition Labour Party, have nicknamed him as “Lt.Pike, the Dim whit” like in the TV comedy “Dads Army” and are demanding his scalp. He refused to concede to demands of educationists but trusted the algorithms used by “Ofqual” the Exams regulator,to penalise students using standardisation to downgrade student grades.

The idea was that grades this year -even without exams – would be consistent with how schools and their students performed, as in the past. The teachers’ ranking would decide which pupils received the top grades in their particular school.

Of qual exams “algorithm fiasco”

Of qual argued that teachers were likely to be more generous in assigning an estimated mark, and this might lead to “Grade Inflation,” or a much higher number of pupils getting the top grades.

What the Education Secretary refused to accept the Teachers’ assessment of their students but stood by the algorithm assessment. An estimated 40% of A Level results were downgraded by the exams regulator Ofqual, which used algorithm formula based on the schools’ prior grades.

What was under the radar?

The Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, did not bother to reveal at any stage of the shamble that Universities due to the Coronavirus were resorting to reduced class lectures, “remote study”. Neither did he give clarity of the numbers of foreign students particularly from China and other nations, who were not wanting to come, whilst others not able to come, for one reason or another, and thereby Universities desperate to attract UK students to cover the shortfall.

When this came to light there was a hue and cry among parents, teachers, and students.
Gavin Williamson had to fall on his sword, apologise to the nation for the distress he had caused to everybody, schools, parents, students, and parliamentarians. He had to abandon his earlier position of “standing by the Algorithm” and accept what was fair by the public of the country.

Now Teachers’ estimates will be awarded to students unless the “computer algorithm”
gave a higher grade.

Too high a price to trust algorithms

Over the past decades it has suited Universities to hold the line by the excuse of “Exam Grade Inflation” and by using some quite controversial statistical techniques to downgrade Black and Ethnic minority students from entering “posh universities”.

Now Coronavirus has come and upset the applecart.

There is one thing to maintain standards, but there is anotherby the ill-fated algorithm, a policy of Universities that has gone too far to streamline their intake.

Students across England and Wales are all competing for the same University places and in the same jobs market.

The basis on which they have been awarded grades has over the past decade been decided by an algorithm, which after all is a technical robot.

So many of the students in England and Wales faced missing out on their dreams for studying for professions of their choice after this year’s A Level results were downgraded through no fault of theirs, when their results were announced on 13 August 2020.

A lot of stress and anxiety had been caused as a result of an algorithm, used by Ofqual, the exams regulator.

With this sudden policy change, up to 2.3 million downgrading of results has been overturned with students to be awarded A Level and GCSE grades as estimated by their teachers.

Too little, too late is what many students now complain.

Jess Johnson, an A Level student who stood to lose on a £16,000 scholarship said that he was thankful and excited about the “U Turn” and the change of result.

Geoff Barton, General Secretary, Association ofSchool & College Leaders (ASCL) welcomed the decision to put an end to the grading fiasco. He added the move would mean perhaps, a grade inflation, but said it was a small price to pay for remedying the manifest injustices caused by the algorithm.

Alistair Jarvis, CEO, Universities UK said: “Universities were being flexible as possible with applicants, but the late policy change has created challenges.

UCAS, the University & College Admissions Service which allocates students to their Universities they have applied said that 69% of 18 year old applicants across the UK were hopefully currently placed with their first choice University ,which it said was higher than at the same point last year. New advice for students and schools will be sent as soon as they were able to take a decision.

Widespread criticism of the Government’s handling of the Exams Results has been highlighted in the media in recent days. It is not going to go away, until Boris Johnson comes back from his holiday in Scotland.

Robert Halton, the Tory Chair of the Commons Education Select Committee has stated that the Government has serious questions to answer.

Academic success and future performance in the jobs market

The main issue that this fiasco has highlighted is that students and particularly parents are asking: “Is academic success an accurate predictor of performance in their later role in the jobs market after Coronavirus”.

Two legal firms, Ashurst and DWF in London have maintained that from September 2020, they will no longer use A Level results at all as part of its criteria for recruitment of their Legal Trainee Contract. Ashurst has stated it will rely on online assessments – which were introduced last year,and this will test first cognitive ability, second problem solving ability and lastly emotional intelligence. Meanwhile, International firm DWF said it will no longer ask for specific A level grades in a bid to boost social mobility.

Good grades are no longer the criteria for recruitment for jobs, but all-round problem-solving talent is eagerly sought after Coronavirus in the marketplace.

There is no doubt that this change has been coming over the years and the Coronavirus has accelerated it.

Education is no longer obtaining grades but being able to surf and control change, than to wish for a past that is not going to be resurrected.