A-levels and GCSEs 1) Chaos as new appeals rules are published…and then withdrawn. All in a single day.

“In a brief statement, Ofqual said the policy was ‘being reviewed’ by its board and that further information would be released ‘in due course’. No reason for the decision was immediately available, sparking confusion for parents across the country and sparked calls for Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to resign. The move comes just hours after the body published its criteria for mock exam results to be considered as the basis of an appeal.In a statement late on Saturday, an Ofqual spokesman said: ‘Earlier today we published information about mock exam results in appeals. This policy is being reviewed by the Ofqual Board and further information will be published in due course.’ “ – Mail on Sunday

A-levels and GCSEs 2) And it gets worse. An even higher proportion of GCSE pupils, whose results come this week, are to be solely assessed by Ofqal’s algorithm.

“According to analysis shared with the Observer, more than 4.6 million GCSEs in England – about 97% of the total – will be assigned solely by the algorithm drawn up by the exam regulator Ofqual. Teacher rankings will be taken into consideration, but not teacher-assessed grades submitted by schools and colleges. Natalie Perera, executive director of the Education Policy Institute thinktank, said: “We will almost certainly see a repeat of the many problems seen with A-levels, only with GCSEs they could be more severe.” Fewer A-levels – an estimated 82% – were calculated by the Ofqual algorithm.” – Observer

A-levels and GCSEs 3) Will the crisis put a stop to Williamson’s push to open schools?

“Parents are being reassured it’s safe to get their children back into the classroom next month as part of a new publicity drive. Measures being put in place such as staggered break times, increased hygiene and hand-washing will ensure a COVID-secure return to school. Risks will also be minimised by pupils remaining in consistent groups. Staff and pupils will be encouraged to walk or cycle to school as part of the #backtoschoolsafely campaign. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said it was a “national priority” to get all students back to school and colleges in September. He said: “All children deserve to be back in school as it is the best place for their education and well-being.” – Sun on Sunday

The Sunday Times: The Government deserves a U for this exams debacle

“The mess has been worsened further by a response that has been fractured between nations. Education is a devolved matter, so different policies are explicable. The failure of the respective governments to communicate is not. Especially unfathomable is that, in England, Mr Williamson had a week of watching the problems unfold in Scotland — a week in which he had most of the data at his disposal — and yet he did nothing. Instead, he panicked and said that pupils would be able to appeal on the basis of a valid mock exam even though he had given Ofqual no prior notice of such an idea and we still have no idea what this will mean in practice – Sunday Times Editorial

> Yesterday: Emily Carver on Comment – The Higher Education dream has been shattered. Could Covid provide the catalyst for change?

Hancock to scrap Public Health England

“Health Secretary Matt Hancock will this week announce a merger of the pandemic response work of PHE with NHS Test and Trace into a new body, called the National Institute for Health Protection, modelled on Germany’s Robert Koch Institute. The Health Secretary, who returns to work after a UK holiday this week, wants to give PHE’s replacement time to be set up before a feared surge in coronavirus cases this autumn. It comes weeks after Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, complained that the country’s response to the pandemic had been sluggish, in remarks which were interpreted as a swipe at PHE.” – Sunday Telegraph

Patel: Racism in France means migrants in Britain

“The home secretary risked inflaming relations with France by telling MPs that migrants win the right to stay in the UK because racism means they cannot find work across the Channel. She also said that asylum seekers argue in the British courts that they would be “tortured” if they were sent back to France. Patel’s comments, made in a conference call with more than 40 Tory MPs, came in a week when the UK and France had clashed over migrants crossing the Channel and Britain had imposed a new quarantine on travellers returning from France.” – Sunday Times

  • More than a thousand migrants crossed the Channel to arrive in Britain during the last ten days – Mail on Sunday
  • Ex-Navy chief says empty cruise ships should be used as processing centres… – Sun on Sunday
  • …As a specialist naval team is sent in – Sunday Telegraph
  • The Home Secretary has a point – John Gray, Mail on Sunday
  • Britain must break this vicious cycle of modern slavery and people smuggling – Sun on Sunday Editorial

Johnson is urged not to add more countries to Britain’s quarantine list

“Boris Johnson is being urged by ministers not to add any more countries to the quarantine list in order to save what is left of the summer holidays. There are fears that if Greece joined France and Spain on the list it would collapse the “travel corridor” system that has given overseas holidays to hundreds of thousands of Britons during the pandemic. The status of Greece was uncertain on Saturday with one Cabinet minister saying that “it all depends on the numbers”. Transport secretary Grant Shapps will review its figures on Thursday.” – Sunday Telegraph

Starmer “will recommend Watson for a peerage”

“Mr Watson – who was blocked for a peerage earlier this year – is set to put forward by Sir Keir in a second ‘donors list’ that is being prepared by Boris Johnson. Jenny Chapman, a former Labour MP who lost her seat at last year’s general election, is also likely to be nominated by Sir Keir. Mr Watson was reportedly blocked for a peerage earlier this year because of he had raised repeatedly concerns about child abuse by the convicted fantasist…Mr Johnson has committed to a second list of peerages after several financial backers failed to make the list including Peter Cruddas and Johnny Leavesley, as well as former Tory MEP Dan Hannan.” – Sunday Telegraph

Other appointments news:

  • Runners and riders for BBC Chairman are said to include front-runner Nicky Morgan, Amber Rudd, Andrew Neil, Robbie Gibb and…”Dan Hannan, the former Tory MEP, who missed out on a peerage in last month’s list of 36 new members of the House of Lords.” – Sunday Telegraph
  • Osborne loses out on Royal Opera House job – Sunday Times

Other comment:

Tory MP under investigation for rape to return to the Commons

“A Conservative MP who is under criminal investigation for rape will be free to return to parliament in two weeks’ time after his bail was extended until early November. The former minister, who in his fifties, was arrested on suspicion of offences including rape, sexual assault and assault on August 1. However, the Tory party has refused to suspend him, with Mark Spencer, the chief whip, saying that it is “down to police” to complete their investigation first…Last night the Metropolitan police issued a statement saying that a specialist complex case team was overseeing the investigation into the MP. It added: “His bail to return on a date has been extended to early November 2020.” – Sunday Times

  • Dozens of SNP bullying complaints from Salmond and Sturgeon era – Sunday Times
  • Eric Joyce deserves jail – Karren Brady, Sun on Sunday
  • If your MP is accused of rape, don’t expect to be told – Tim Shipman, Sunday Times

And finally…75 years on: VJ Day. The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh reflect on “jubilant scenes” – and honour “the cost borne by so many”

“There is no greater symbol of the sacrifice of the war in the Far East than the Burma railway, built by British and Allied prisoners of war and which for every sleeper laid a life was supposedly lost. On Friday, the Prince of Wales placed a wreath of poppies on a 30-metre section of the railway track at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, and led a nation in honouring those he called the “indefatigable” heroes of the Far East…The Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen also released a joint statement reflecting on their memories of VJ Day and “the jubilant scenes and overwhelming sense of relief” that the war had come to a close. Such joy was tempered, they said, by “the cost borne by so many” – Sunday Telegraph

> Yesterday: Alistair Lexden on Comment – On this day, 75 years ago – VJ Day at Westminster