I lost my place at medical school because my A-level results were downgraded – I am heartbroken and angry

·6-min read

I received A-level results yesterday. I am trying to put into words my anger at the government for their disgraceful actions and the secretary of education’s blatant disregard for our futures.

I attended a non-selective state school for both secondary and sixth form and have worked exceptionally hard to achieve my dreams. I worked hard and gained a place to study medicine at Cardiff University in September. These two years have been exceptionally hard for me and I have worked hard to make progress in my subjects.

In year 13, as I wanted to study medicine, I have also had to complete the UCAT/ BMAT and university interviews which have taken time away from my studies and that has impacted my grades . In January, my mental health declined greatly but after receiving a place at medical school I was sure all the struggles and the long nights would be worth it for me to achieve my dreams. It would seem I was wrong.

I hoped to get an A*AA in my three subjects. However, on 13 August I received ABB. My place at university has gone and I was rejected, and I am completely heartbroken. All of my subjects were downgraded and roughly 50 per cent of my school was downgraded. I am crushed and angry at seeing myself and my friends subjected to this when private school pupils are once again benefitting where we aren’t. The government has failed us and refuses to help; by not u-turning or helping us they are once again putting their reputation before their citizens, which is disgraceful and cannot be tolerated.

Even now, I am on the brink of tears writing this. I feel like all of my hard work is not reflected in my grades. In addition, the appeals system is still not clear and for students who need to decide on their future soon, this is unacceptable. I was not able to complete my mocks as lockdown started during my exams and so I am unsure what will happen when I do appeal.

Teachers have worked hard to stick to government guidelines and future employers will recognise that 2020 was an exception, so I am in awe of Gavin Williamson’s disrespect for teachers and for the class of 2020.

I am an example of thousands of hard-working students all over the country who have been let down and crushed by the government’s incompetence. I want to use my voice to show the government what they have done and hopefully make them reconsider.

Francesca Ward
Address supplied

Struggling to see greatness

I read Andrew Grice's column about the education secretary Gavin Williamson with interest and agree that this politician has been promoted far beyond his pay grade and often seems strangely detached from reality. I struggle too with the notion that he was an efficient “take no prisoners” government whip with his laidback persona. Perhaps he bored them into submission, obviously with the help of his pet tarantula, if his agonisingly slow and deliberate speech did not do the trick.

The A level debacle was an inevitable car crash coming down the tracks - this is iniquitous that so many hard working and A grade students should be subject to a divisive algorithm. No wonder the “Red Wall” Conservative backbenchers are furious, as they can see their “levelling up” electoral pledges going straight to the recycling bin.

Judith A Daniels
Great Yarmouth, Norfolk

Safer in France

Having just returned from a road trip to Austria, involving two overnight stops going out (France and Germany) and two on the return leg (both in France), we arrived safely back in Dover on the ferry on Tuesday afternoon. We are the lucky ones in that we beat the quarantine imposition, but we certainly don't feel safer being in this country than we did whilst in France.

All restaurants, hotels, motorway service areas, etc. have signs outside saying that face coverings are obligatory; everyone knows the rules and abides by them and all staff wear face coverings. In restaurants masks are only removed at tables and then put on again to get up, even if only to go to the toilet. The day after our return we ate out in a restaurant here (part of a mid-range chain) where the only precautions were a few hand sanitisers and a one way system in place, which half the customers ignored, and a minority of staff wearing face coverings.

I don't believe the British public are any less conscientious then our European cousins, but are being let down by the lack of clarity from this incompetent government. All decisions, especially on quarantine, appear to be politically motivated rather than scientifically thought through. I certainly feel less safe here and am sadly waiting for the inevitable spike in Covid-19 cases over the next few months.

Paul McDermott
Lichfield, Staffs

A-level anger

Like many A-level students this year, I am thoroughly disappointed with the government’s handling of the results. Luckily for me, despite my final grades being reduced in three out of my four subjects, Cambridge University has still accepted me on their physical sciences course. But I am angered on behalf of many of my peers who were not quite so fortunate. After a conversation with one of my teachers, I learnt that more than half of the top students in my FE college had faced compromised results. This shows that Ofqual and the government have consistently cut corners with their approach to results.

Neither students nor staff have been informed of how the appeals process will work, leaving so many students in suspense over their university choices. The likelihood is that bright candidates will have to defer, or possibly even lose their places altogether, especially on Oxbridge and medicine courses. The government should have made plans for the appeals process well in advance of results day - its failure to do so shows incompetency and a lack of consideration for students’ futures.

Secondly, it is obvious that the algorithm used to calculate results leaves no consideration for high achievers from more deprived backgrounds. This has affirmed the existing class inequalities in our education system and resulted in students receiving the wrong results. Every year, examining authorities go to great lengths to prevent cheating in exams, and ensure each student receives the right results. Ironically, this year, we have not been cheated by our peers, but by the very organisations that seek to prevent malpractice. And like all who undermine the fairness of the exams system, those involved should be penalised.

As students, what did we get so wrong to receive these grades? Perhaps Mr Williamson’s answer would be that we have come from socioeconomic backgrounds “unworthy” of A* grades. Has the government absolutely abandoned equality and integrity in our examination results system? Let the facts answer for themselves.

Jessica Humphries

Entertainer not politician

Sadly neither Mark Steel or May Bulman get it, do they? Farage has never been anything other than an entertainer to the majority of the population. He’s never been a political influencer. This is proven by his failure to ever be elected to parliament. And dedicating a complete column to him surely is giving him the oxygen of even more publicity.

Rather than blame some of the British public for their attitude towards illegal immigrants entering the country, their time could be better spent criticising both Labour and Conservative governments for allowing our infrastructure to collapse, meaning families having to wait literally years to acquire decent housing, hospital appointments and government support of any kind.

Ted Edwards