Last week thousands of young people received exam results again for the first time since 2019. After two years of stress over algorithms and which pieces of classwork were used as the basis of centre-assessed grades, students, parents and teachers are back to the world of exams.
Our young people should be incredibly proud of their results. Students have worked hard in exceptional circumstances during the COVID pandemic. They are rightly thrilled to receive grades that enable them to progress onto their next steps, whether university, further education or into employment.
Yet this has also been a challenging year for young people. They were told before they took their exams that grades would be going down, following the bumper sets of results students received during the pandemic. They were also told that, with more 18-year olds across the country, competition for university places would be fierce.
The drop we’ve seen in results this week has not been felt equally. Young people in the North West saw the number of A/A* grades they received in 2022 fall by 16.9% compared to 2021. This is compared to a fall of 16.1% in A/A* grades for those in the South East. On top of this, students at private schools were almost twice as likely to get an A or A* grade than pupils in secondary comprehensives. Young people across England are equally capable and just as talented in every part of our country, but twelve long years of Conservative governments have been holding back our kids.
Last summer, Labour set out an ambitious Children’s Recovery Plan which would have delivered small group tutoring through schools and colleges, afterschool clubs and professional mental health support for all young people. We urged the government to match this ambition, to make sure that the unequal disruption young people experienced during the pandemic did not play out in their exam results.
But the Conservatives have failed our children yet again. Fewer than one in five students who sat exams this summer have received any help from the government’s disastrous tutoring programme which has wasted public money and failed to reach pupils.
This is the culmination of twelve years of neglect for our children’s education. Labour is determined to turn that around. We would be ending tax breaks for private schools to ensure every child gets the opportunity of a brilliant state education.
Young people should be proud of their results and all that they’ve achieved this year, but they need a government that will put them and their futures first. That’s the fresh start that Labour will deliver.