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Students ‘messed around’ by A-level fiasco should be financially compensated, says senior Tory

Senior Tory Huw Merriman said students should be compensated for the A Level fiasco (PA)

3 min read

The A-level students “messed around over the last week” by the grade algorithm fiasco should get “financial compensation”, according to a senior Tory MP.

Select committee chair Huw Merriman said ministers should be looking “at what their student loan provision should be for the year coming into university” after their results were downgraded last week then changed back following Monday’s U-turn.

He said it was the Government, not exam regulator Ofqual, that should take the blame, after claims officials are being placed in the firing line to save education secretary Gavin Williamson.

Speaking to Radio 4’s PM programme Mr Merriman said: “Let’s be absolutely clear, if there’s any fault in this, and there has been, then the fault has to reside with the government. 

“The Government are responsible. I  as an MP am responsible for representing the governing party and I am sorry for what’s happened to all my students and teachers.

"And so it’s not something that should be passed onto Ofqual, the buck stops with government.”

But he did not agree that Mr Williamson should lose his job over the issue, saying it was “distracting” and not a good idea “to start changing our personnel” in the middle of the crisis.

Mr Merriman admitted the Government has failed to do enough for young people, saying of the response to the coronavirus on education: “We could have owned it a lot more and projected our voice on behalf of young people”.

He added: “But also I'd like to see more of an offer now to some of these younger people, who have been impacted with A-level grades so do we need to look at their student loan rates for their first year, for example? 

"Do we need to make it up to them as far as that's concerned? For those that deferred do we need to make sure that they are guaranteed one of these kickstart jobs so they can work for six months?”

And he said pupils should be entitled to “financial compensation” for the issues they have faced, saying: “I think it's all about making it up to them and saying we understand that you have been messed around over the last week. 

“This must have been one of the most unsettling and uncertain and upsetting things for them to have occurred.

“A-kevel grades are a momentous and worrying time as it is, so I think to make it up for them we should be looking at what their student loan provision should be for the year coming into university.

“I think it’s measures like that that will show students that we understand, we are sorry,  we get it, and we’re willing to give them something back.”

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