Tens of thousands of students will not get their exam results on Thursday because of the fallout from the government’s U-turn over A-levels and GCSEs, under a last-minute announcement.
Pupils sitting the BTec qualification were told hours before results day that they would have to wait for their grades while their exam board recalculated them to match the government’s change in policy.
Colleges warned that students would be worried about losing out on places in further and higher education, and the exam board admitted that the delay could “cause additional stress and uncertainty” for students.
Exam board Pearson, which oversees the qualification, said it was having to recalculate grades for level 1 and level 2 in order to be fair to BTec students, who compete against GCSE students for places in further education.
Students at BTec level 3, who have already been given their grades, have also been told that their results may change – though they can only go up and not down.
The decision will mostly affect students taking a more vocational route into work or university; the qualification involves more hands-on practical work and is popular with older learners as well as young people.
“Our priorities are to deliver fair outcomes for BTec students in relation to A-levels and GCSEs and to ensure that no student is disadvantaged,” said Cindy Rampersaud, senior vice president at Pearson for BTec and apprenticeships, in a statement issued on Wednesday evening.
“So, in light of Ofqual’s announcement, we decided to review our approach for BTec students and have taken on board feedback from teachers, schools and colleges before making a number of changes.”
She added: “We have become concerned about unfairness, including consistency with the approaches now being used for GCSE and A-levels.
“This means we will now be removing Pearson-calculated grades and allowing higher outcomes for the externally examined units so they are in line with those assessed by teachers. We believe this is now a more trusted source of evidence of learner attainment.