Opposition Day Debate – Exam Results

The second Opposition Day Debate held on Wednesday 9 September 2020 was on the personal role and involvement of the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Education in this summer’s exams fiasco.

The Government’s handling of exams this year was disastrous and unfair on teachers, parents and young people. They imposed an unfair system and were forced into a U-turn thanks to the campaigning of young people, their families, and the Labour Party.

In the days and weeks following this U-turn, it became clear that both the Secretary of State and the Prime Minister were warned of all these problems in advance, but did nothing to address them. It is time for them to be fully transparent about this process to ensure that it is never repeated.

The publication of the results confirmed that nearly 40% of A Level grades in England had been downgraded by an algorithm based on the prior performance of the pupils’ school and their prior attainment, baking in inequality and not accounting for individuals’ ability. This is completely unacceptable.

Labour’s motion called for a humble address that would see all documents relating to the exams fiasco provided to the Education Select Committee to ensure absolute transparency. You can read the motion in full below:

That an Humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, that she will be graciously pleased to give a direction to Her Ministers to provide all correspondence, including meeting notes, minutes, submissions and electronic communications, involving Ministers and Special Advisers pertaining to the process of awarding qualifications in GCSE, A-Level and NVQs in 2020 and 2021 by the Prime Minister and Secretary of State to the Education Select Committee. 

The Government voted against this motion and it was defeated by 326 votes to 236. It is a sign of the Prime Minister and Education Secretary’s serial incompetence that they are blocking transparency and scrutiny.