A furious A-level student ripped into the UK’s schools minister – telling him “you’ve ruined my life” – on a BBC radio programme after her results were downgraded.
Heartbroken Nina Bunting-Mitcham challenged Nick Gibb as she said her marks were three grades lower than predicted and she was rejected from her chosen university after the Government used a controversial modelling system.
Speaking on Radio 4’s Any Questions?, the teen, from Peterborough in Cambridgeshire, said she was predicted to achieve ABB and scored As and Bs in her mock exams.
However, the New College Stamford student’s DDD results meant she failed to meet her offer from the Royal Veterinary College. She has since said getting three Ds left her feeling like her life “was completely over”.
Education leaders called for an urgent inquiry into the A-level grading system after nearly two in five students in England had their results lowered following the shutdown of schools due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Schools in England will be able to appeal against A-level and GCSE grades free of charge, the Government has since confirmed.
It comes as Education Secretary Gavin Williamson faces increasing pressure to resign over his department’s mishandling of this summer’s exam results in England.
Amid growing anger from students, parents and opposition parties, Nina told Mr Gibb during Friday’s programme: “I’ve not just been downgraded two grades, but three grades lower in one of my predicted.
“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.
“You have ruined my life.”
Mr Gibb responded: “Yes, and that is rare. Sixty per cent of grades awarded the ones that the teacher has said.”
He then promised Nina that her life won’t be ruined by her grades and assured her “it will be sorted”, and also admitted “imperfections” in the system.
Mr Gibb added pupils can also sit exams in the autumn and “many universities are holding places open to start in January”.
Nina later told the BBC getting three Ds had made her feel like life “was completely over”, and her teachers were “utterly shocked” on learning her predicted results of ABB – in biology, chemistry and psychology – had been downgraded.
She has begun the appeals process.
The student said Mr Gibb’s statement contradicted the Government’s previous assurances that the grading system was “robust”.
School exams were cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Grades in England were handed out using a controversial modelling system based on key factors such as a ranking of pupils and previous exam results of schools and colleges.
Mr Gibb is set to lead a taskforce that will oversee the appeals process.
The Government has confirmed schools in England will be able to appeal against A-level and GCSE grades free of charge.
State-funded schools and colleges will also be able to claim back the cost of unsuccessful appeals as well as fees for autumn exams, said the Department for Education.
The Department for Education said it has introduced a “triple lock system” meaning those pupils “unhappy with their calculated grades can appeal on the basis of a valid mock result” or sit an exam in the autumn.
It comes amid widespread criticism of the Government’s handling of the exams system, after thousands of pupils in England had their results downgraded by a statistical model.
Mr Williamson said there had been “some difficult cases”, adding: “I have said repeatedly that my absolute priority is fairness for students, and I do not want anything holding them back from achieving the grades they deserve.
“So all result appeals for state-funded schools and colleges will be free, helping to make sure every single student has the best possible chance of securing the grades they need in order to take their next step.”
Appeals against grades vary between exam boards, with charges of up to £150 for an independent review, and costs are refunded if the appeal is upheld.
There were 3,205 appeals against grades granted for GCSEs, AS and A-levels for exams sat in summer 2019, equivalent to 0.05 per cent of all entries, and 16 per cent – of 516 grades – were changed, according to figures from exam regulator Ofqual.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is standing by Mr Williamson and has described the system as “robust”.
Meanwhile, the Royal Statistical Society has written to the Office of Statistics Regulation to ask for a review into whether “the models and processes adopted by the qualification regulators did in fact achieve quality and trustworthiness”.