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Social Mobility Foundation: A-level results will shine a light on the inequality that lies at the heart of our education system

Commenting ahead of tomorrow’s A-level results Sarah Atkinson, CEO of the Social Mobility Foundation which coaches thousands of high attaining young people from disadvantaged backgrounds into elite universities every year, said:

“These results will shine a light on the inequality that lies at the heart of our education system. There are bright young people the length and breadth of this country who have a mountain to climb to achieve parity with their better off peers and the statistical models used by Ofqual, and the SQA last week, confirm that the odds are stacked against these young people from the start.

“In April we made a six page submission to Ofqual raising our concerns about high performing young people at low attaining schools. We said ‘these young people are not statistics to us, we work with them all year round and we know they are consistently undersold’. Following this week’s U-turn from the Scottish Government we note with interest the decision from the Secretary of State in England to allow schools to appeal on behalf of students, it is clear the Scottish experience has alerted the Government to the unfairness of their statistical model and they are trying to find a solution. However we will be asking the young people on our programme to share their experience and will flag concerns should they emerge, especially in relation to differences between how schools approach mock exams. We sincerely hope young people from poor backgrounds do not lose confidence in the system.

“Covid has highlighted wider inequalities in our society with children who live in overcrowded households with limited access to laptops or the internet struggling to stay on track over the past 5 months. We need more than a quick fix for this year’s students, we need to learn from what these results expose and ensure our system recognises, and seeks to change, the massively unequal playing field our young people compete on.”

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