Following the news that up to 40% of teacher-awarded grades may be downgraded, private schools are reportedly seeking legal advice as they prepare for a flood of appeals from parents ahead of A-level results day, according to the PA news agency.
Newspaper reports also say exam boards are under pressure to make appeals free so poorer pupils do not miss out, and that 40% of teacher predictions for A-level results will be lowered.
The Times reports that education lawyers are working with schools which could be hit with group appeals over results that have not been decided in the classroom this year due to Covid-19.
With exams cancelled, teachers had to decide grades for each student and rank them in order within their class. Those grades are still likely to be changed by exam boards based on schools’ previous results.
While appeals were allowed only on technical grounds in the past, exams regulator Ofqual on Friday told the Times it would provide greater scope this year, with schools able to challenge results if they had made rapid improvements or had outstanding year groups.
While individual families will still have virtually no grounds for appeal, Neil Roskilly, chief executive of the Independent Schools Association, said he is expecting a “flood of appeals” from schools.
“Parents will immediately be putting pressure on schools to make blanket appeals - schools are going to be inundated with requests from parents,” he told the paper.
The Daily Telegraph reported that English exam boards are coming under pressure to follow their Scottish counterparts and waive appeal fees this year to ensure fairness across socio-economic backgrounds. Schools usually have to pay between 8 and 70 per query for GCSE and A-level re-markings.
The reports come after some 100 school students protested against their exam results in Glasgow on Friday amid continued criticism of Scotland’s marking system, with many fearing being marked harshly due to past results from their schools.
The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) downgraded 124,564 results for exams cancelled due to the pandemic.
Australia’s deputy chief medical officer, Dr Nick Coatsworth, says the number of healthcare workers in Victoria who have tested positive to Covid-19 is of “significant concern to all of us”. As of today, there are 998 active Covid-19 cases among healthcare workers in Victoria.
Coatsworth said he had “spoken directly with my colleagues in Victoria on a number of occasions, to push forward an agenda to get more data on healthcare worker infection”.
He said that he used to work for Médecins Sans Frontières, and was familiar with the mental health impacts on health workers of exposing themselves to risk.
One of those postings was to the Republic of Sudan, which was very challenging, and it exposed me to that risk, anxiety of not knowing what the day would hold or indeed, what personal risk I was going to find myself in. And that takes its toll, of course. We know that it is taking its toll on our colleagues down in Victoria at the moment. I know that feeling of not being able to feel refreshed in the morning. I know that feeling of concern, moving to anxiety, and something that can be constantly there, and stay there for a long time.
So what I would strongly encourage all Victorians to do ... do everything you possibly can to bring these numbers down. For healthcare workers and residential aged care workers, my colleagues in Victoria, please avail yourself of assistance if you are feeling that way.
He recommended people call friends and family working in healthcare settings in Victoria, and encouraged healthcare workers to seek assistance through their GP or support services such as the Blackdog Institute.
New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern launches 'Covid election'
New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern has launched her “Covid election” campaign, promising a “laser-like focus” on the economic recovery from Covid-19.
NZ has been one of the most successful countries in the world in managing Covid-19, adopting an elimination strategy through an initial tough lockdown and strict border controls. It has had 1,569 cases in total and 22 deaths.
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The charismatic 40-year-old leader is on track for a comfortable victory in the 19 September election, according to opinion polls, having won global praise for her leadership during the coronavirus pandemic.
It has been 99 days since New Zealand had any domestic transmission of Covid-19, a rare achievement as the pandemic rages globally, and it has re-opened the economy after undergoing a complete shutdown to eradicate the coronavirus.
“When people ask, is this a Covid election, my answer is yes, it is,” Ardern told her supporters gathered in Auckland for the launch of her Labour Party’s re-election campaign.
In her first campaign speech, Ardern pledged a NZ$311 million scheme aimed at getting 40,000 Kiwis back in work, if her party wins the election.
The funding will allow businesses a subsidy of on average NZ$7500, and up to NZ$22,000, to hire unemployed New Zealanders.
“The new Flexi-wage scheme is a key plank of our economic plan to support businesses to recover and to provide jobs to those who have lost work due to Covid,” Ardern said.
Second wave outbreak in Melbourne has had 'knock-on effects' for Australia's economic recovery
The Australian treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, has told reporters in Melbourne that the hotel quarantine breach which caused the second wave in Victoria was “frustrating” and has set back the national economic recovery, as well as causing more than 170 deaths. He said that 98% of all current cases in Australia were in, or linked back to, Victoria.
He told reporters:
There have clearly been very serious failures when it comes to quarantine in Victoria, with deadly consequences. And Victorians are entitled to know more and to get the answers. They know the what, but they don’t know the how and the why when it comes to the quarantine failures. I’ll leave that to the Victorian government to provide that explanation as Victorians need and deserve.
Asked if Victorian premier Daniel Andrews had been left in an “untenable” position over the hotel quarantine failures, Frydenberg said:
As I’ve said publicly before, no one benefits from a slanging match between the federal government and the Victorian government ... I’ll leave that commentary about Daniel Andrews’ performance to you.
Andrews said this week that, as premier, he is accountable for any failures in hotel quarantine. Prompted again, Frydenberg said:
Well, it’s very frustrating to see failures such as those, absolutely. These were serious failures with deadly consequences. And there needs to be accountability. There needs to be an explanation. Victorians deserve that and want that and need that at this difficult time.
They’re being asked to make major sacrifices right now. You’ve got families who are struggling with homeschooling. You’ve got kids who are missing their friends at school and at weekend sport. You have grandparents who are separated from their grandchildren and millions of Victorians who are worried about their own job security.
This, unfortunately, is the state of disaster, as the premier himself has called it, that we find ourselves here in Victoria. These are unprecedented times. But our focus, as a federal government, is supporting the Victorian government and the Victorian people as much as we can.
Asked if he was frustrated by the impact of the hotel quarantine outbreak on the federal budget, he said:
This has had many knock-on effect for the national recovery effort. And I will leave those answers to the premier and those questions to the premier to provide.