Boris Johnson defends Gavin Williamson over exams criticism

Boris Johnson and Gavin Williamson
Boris Johnson and Gavin Williamson - (Copyright PA Archive)
17:17pm, Thu 13 Aug 2020
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Boris Johnson has defended Gavin Williamson – despite the Education Secretary coming under fire after thousands of pupils had their results downgraded.

The Prime Minister, speaking during a visit to Northern Ireland, described the exams system as “robust”.

And he told reporters that the results published on Thursday are “good” and are “dependable for employers”.

It’s very important that for years to come people should be able to look at these grades and think these are robust

Mr Johnson said: “Let’s be in no doubt about it, the exam results that we’ve got today are robust, they’re good, they’re dependable for employers, but already I think that there’s a record number of candidates, of students, who are able to get their first choice course at the university of their choice.

“Plus, there’s a record number of students, of pupils, from disadvantaged backgrounds who now as a result of these grades, will be able to go to university.”

Asked if he has confidence in Mr Williamson, he said: “Of course I do, but I think this is a robust system and it’s one that is dependable for employers.

“It’s very important that for years to come people should be able to look at these grades and think these are robust, these are dependable.”

The Prime Minister also said that more pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds are able to go to university.

He said: “I think obviously it was going to be very difficult in the absence of formal proper exams this year of the kind that we normally have because of the virus, we’ve had to put in the system we have.

“I do think it’s robust and as I say, a couple of things I think are very important – first of all, more students than ever before are able to go to their university of choice, to do the course of their choice.

“And on your point about kids, pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, more than ever before are now able to go to university, are going to university this year as a result of the grades they’ve got today.”

Mr Johnson added that where pupils feel they could have done better in their results, they will be able to resit exams.

“Where pupils are disappointed, where they feel that they could have done better, where they feel that there’s an injustice been done to them, there is the possibility of appeal and they can resit, they can take a resit this autumn as well,” said the Prime Minister.

“But looking at the big picture, I think overall we’ve got a very robust set of grades, plus you’ve got the situation in which more pupils than ever before are getting their first choice course at university and more kids from disadvantaged backgrounds going to university.”

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