Written evidence submitted by Keith Geary
Submission for 02.09.20 Committee session from:
Keith Geary: Parent of 2020 A Level candidate and retired Headteacher
QUESTION 1: On what grounds did Ofqual officials ignore warnings about the now well-publicised issues built into their proposed statistical standardisation model which had been raised directly in private and public correspondence with the Chief Regulator beginning in early April?
Basis for question:
I myself first raised these issues with the Chief Regulator in a letter sent on 14th April providing an analysis of Ofqual’s initial proposals (published on 3rd April). I followed this with further detailed responses to subsequent information published by Ofqual. In summary, these responses were received by the Chief Regulator’s office on:
14th April: Response to Ofqual’s 2020 assessment and grading information document, published 3rd April
29th April: Commentary on Ofqual’s Exceptional arrangements for exam grading and assessment in 2020, published 15th April
11th May: Letter commenting on revised version (published 5th May and marked FINAL) of 3rd April 2020 assessment and grading information document for centres and teachers
19th May; Letter and comments on Cath Jadhav, Director, Standards and Comparability, Ofqual blog post ‘Making grades as fair as they can be: advice for schools and colleges’ and Ofqual document Additional information for Heads of Centre, Heads of Department and teachers on objectivity in grading and ranking, both published on 15th May.
2nd July: Response to Consultation Decisions document published on 22nd May and the accompanying Analysis of Consultation Responses document
14th July: Further response to Consultation Decisions document published on 22nd May
17th July, 20th July, 23rd July: Queries regarding Requirements for the Calculation of Results in Summer 2020
27th July: Response to Cath Jadhav, Director, Standards and Comparability, 24th July Ofqual blog post, ‘Reflections on the Summer Symposium’
7th August: Comments on Cath Jadhav, Director, Standards and Comparability, 6th August Ofqual blog post, ‘Fairness in awarding’
12th August: Comment on mock results ‘triple lock’ announcement by DfE, published 12th August
Taken together these responses amount to an evolving analysis of over 30 pages with a series of questions, many of them specifically relevant to the issues that emerged into the light in the days immediately preceding A Level results day and then, of course, on results day itself and its aftermath.
Throughout I have (like others) encountered an absolute refusal to engage with—let alone answer—questions related to the issues raised in this correspondence. This includes responses to Cath Jadhav’s Ofqual Blog entries which actually invite questions in response. In reality, questions about the issues were ignored, the concerns raised dismissed as ‘technical issues’ (2nd June) by the Chief Regulator’s office when challenged on lack of response.
QUESTION 2: In the light of the indisputable failure of Ofqual’s statistical standardisation model, how do you explain the fact that members of the Ofqual External Advisory Group on Exam Grading gave me written assurances that the issues I raised in a 16th July letter to them (the same issues raised with the Chief Regulator) would be addressed by the model?
Basis for question:
Here are three replies from members of the group with names redacted. Each in its way is particularly telling and will be of interest, I am sure, to Committee members.
QUESTION 3: With hindsight do you think that the narrow Oxford-centric membership of the External Advisory Group on Exam Grading may have had anything to do with Ofqual’s reluctance to engage the assistance of other experienced and skilled statisticians from beyond that circle as seen, for example, in Ofqual’s failure to accept advisory assistance from the Royal Statistical Society who nominated two independent statisticians (Professor Guy Nasen at Imperial and Professor Paula Williamson at Liverpool) for this role?
Basis for question:
Membership of the advisory group taken from Ofqual document
University of Oxford positions added in green where not already mentioned in the document’s listing. Asterisks indicate Oxford alumni.
Dr. Rebecca Allen, Teacher Tapp Honorary Research Fellow, Department of Education. University of Oxford
Prof. Jo-Anne Baird (Vice-Chair) Professor of Educational Assessment, University of Oxford
Dr. David Best, UCAS
David Blow, Ashcombe School
Jason Bradbury, Ofsted *
Tom Bramley, Cambridge Assessment *
Dr. Mike Cresswell (Chair), Ofqual Board
Prof. John Jerrim, UCL Institute of Education
Dr. Tim Leunig, HM Treasury *
Anne Pinot de Moira, Independent consultant Honorary Norham Fellow, Department of Education , University of Oxford
Neil Sheldon, Independent consultant *