An A-Level student who missed out on a place at a top veterinary school after receiving three D grades has angrily confronted education minister Nick Gibb during a radio interview, telling him: “You have ruined my life”.
Nina Bunting Mitcham, from Peterborough, said her teacher assessed grades predicted her to achieve ABB, but was downgraded by the algorithm used to standardise results, which the government has come under intense fire for.
Results from the exam regulator Ofqual revealed on Thursday that 39 per cent of teachers’ assessed grades in England were marked down using the standardising system that took into account institutions’ historic performances.
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The system was enacted by education officials to determine results after schools, colleges and sixth forms were ordered to close and exams cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions? the A-Level student said she had failed to meet her offer from the Royal Veterinary College, adding: “I have now idea how this has happened. It’s got to be a mistake, I have never been a D-grade student.
“I feel my life has been completely ruined, I can’t get into any universities with such grades or progress further in my life,” the New College Stamford student said. “I would like to know how this has happened.”
In response, Mr Gibb, the schools minister for England, who was also appearing on the programme, said: “I do feel for you. This should not have happened to you. We don’t want you to have to go through this stress of having to go through an appeal to find out what’s going to happen to your career.
“None of this is satisfactory, the best system is for people to take their exams – that’s what should have happened. It’s what we wanted to happen, but we had to take a very difficult decision in March to cancel exams and what we didn’t want was for young people like Nina to have to delay a year.”
“The reason for the standardisation model is to ensure we have consistency between schools and we don’t have grade inflation.”
Mr Gibb was then challenged over why the system was not working by BBC presenter Chris Mason, as the student told the minister “you have ruined my life”.
But the education minister added: “It won’t ruin your life, it will be sorted I can assure you. The trouble with these models – when you have a model that standardises grades across the country there will be imperfections in it.”
“That’s why we have introduced very robust appeals processes that schools will trigger for candidates like Nina. Those appeals will happen very swiftly and universities have said they will hold offers open until 7 September and we’re working through that now.”