A PRINCIPAL has described his school’s A-level results as “unfathomable” after downgrading left students across the country in turmoil.

A quarter of a million students in the UK received their results yesterday morning, despite not sitting any exams.

Instead, teachers submitted grades for their students based on what they believed they would get.

But, schools and colleges across the country were left stunned when Government computers and moderators downgraded results on a mass scale.

Exam boards suppressed nearly two in five pupils’ grades in England, according to data from exam regulator Ofqual.

Teachers at Bhasvic in Dyke Road, Hove, were shocked to find that one third of all their submitted marks had been downgraded.

This translates into 358 fewer A* to B grades and 34 fewer passes (A* to E) after the moderation.

The Argus visited the school yesterday morning where a steady stream of nervous students would usually be heading to pick up their results.

But there was an eerie quiet in the area surrounding the school as students received their grades online.

The lives of some students waiting at home were soon thrown into chaos as the results came in.

Mike Wilcox, 70, whose daughter was predicted a B – and received it in her mock – was stunned to find it had been downgraded to a D by the algorithm.

Students are allowed to achieve their mock grade but have to appeal to do so.

Mr Wilcox, whose daughter had been due to start at Loughborough University in a few weeks, said: “The university is saying you ran out of time.

“They published the clearances at 3pm this afternoon and the kids are snapping them up.

“When we asked Bhasvic to give us the mock, they said they didn’t have the mock available.

“If you go through the appeals process it could take one or two weeks, but my daughter had to lock in her accommodation today.”

A* to B grades at the college were down nearly five per cent from the previous year and below its three-year average.

The Argus also understands that the number of students who received a high-grade BTec decreased from a three-year average of 76.3 per cent to 49.7 per cent.

It was also reported that U grades tripled compared to the previous year.

Principal William Baldwin said: “It is unfathomable that as national results have gone up approximately two per cent, ours have gone down.

“It seems to me as if the moderation process has ignored the upward trend in our results and the significant ‘progress’ or value-added outcomes that Bhasvic students get.

“We are hugely disappointed and frustrated that this has happened on some of our courses and angry about the impact it will have on some of our students – it doesn’t seem fair or right – particularly against the political rhetoric of ‘no individual will suffer as a result of the cancellation of exams’.

“We will be looking to appeal some of these outcomes.”

Mr Baldwin was not alone in his frustration at the hastily assembled grading system, made necessary after the coronavirus crisis forced the Government to scrap exams this year.

Dr James Kilmartin, retiring principal of Cardinal Newman Catholic School in Hove, described the decision to downgrade some students as “inexplicable” while Donna-Marie Janson, principal of Varndean in Brighton, said half of her pupils had received an “inaccurate grade”.

She said: “There are some disappointments. Our team worked really hard to work out accurate centre-assessed grades for every student.

“It’s really, really disappointing that across the whole country the grades awarded by the Government don’t reflect these centre-assessed grades.

“It isn’t systemic as there are different subjects and different exam boards.

“But it’s quite hard for students to take. The appeals process changed yesterday and I’d expect it to change again. It’s not 100 per cent clear.

“When the Government announced yesterday mock exams were taken into the account, that was the first time I’d heard as a sixth-form principal.

“But we do have some fantastic results today and the number of students who received A* to Bs is up on last year, though not as much as we would’ve thought. It’s nice we can have a celebration here today as many students haven’t seen each other together since March.”

Analysis of the results found the downgrades hit pupils from disadvantaged areas the hardest.

Sixth form colleges, like Bhasvic and Newman, particularly lost out in the standardisation process, while private schools reaped the benefits with a huge increase in grade A and above.

The year-on-year percentage change showed the number of people receiving top marks had increased by 0.3 percentage points in sixth form and further education colleges.

However, students receiving A and A* grades in independent colleges rose by 4.7 percentage points under the moderation system.

Hove and Portslade MP Peter Kyle said the moderation process, designed by the Government, was either “rank incompetence” or a “vicious attack” on aspiring young adults.

He said: “This is about deprivation, it’s about affluence and it’s about who succeeded and who fails as a result of Government policy.

“Bhasvic over the last decade has become outstanding at delivering social mobility, it’s formed very strong links with schools in areas of deprivation and fast-tracking students with the right aptitude right through to great universities and it is these students the algorithm is designed to suppress.”

Mr Kyle implored any students who live locally and are affected to get in contact with him directly.

He said: “I can’t wave a magic wand for anyone, but every student in Hove and Portslade should know that I will go to war for them.

“I had to go to war for myself because there was no one fighting my corner, I did not get into university until I was 26.

“I will not stand idly by and watch all the odds stacked against them and then be left to flounder alone.

“If that means standing up to the worst Education Secretary our country has ever known, by hook or by crook, that’s what I will do.”

Shortly after the release of the marks, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson tweeted: “Congratulations to all students receiving results today – you should feel proud of everything you’ve achieved in these difficult circumstances.

“Thank you to all the teachers and staff who have supported their students, enabling them to take the next steps in their lives.”

The Department for Education was contacted for comment.