A politician has warned about the downgrading of pupils from disadvantaged and BAME backgrounds.

Marking A-Level results day, Waltham Forest London Assembly Member, Jennette Arnold OBE AM, has highlighted pupils from disadvantaged and BAME backgrounds may be downgraded due to unconscious bias.

Ms Arnold has recently written to the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, and the exams regulator, Ofqual, to call for individual students to be given the ability to appeal against awarded grades if they believe their marks have been negatively impacted by unconscious bias.

Local London Assembly Member, Jennette Arnold OBE AM, said: “Young people in Waltham Forest have already been placed under a significant amount of stress and anxiety in recent months, and the many flaws of the awarded grades system played out in Scotland last week, have needlessly added to their burden.

“I warned the Government of the potential pitfalls of their new grading system back in April, but was reassured that there was a robust plan in place to address them all.

“Recent events have only heightened my concerns that those from disadvantaged and BAME backgrounds will still be placed at a disproportionate risk of being downgraded.

“Unconscious bias plays a big role in this, and so it is crucial that the appeals process is opened up to students as well as schools”.

Ofqual have since responded to say that the right to lodge an appeal will continue to lie with schools rather than pupils, claiming that teachers are best placed to determine whether a grade needs to be challenged.

A recent London Assembly Education Panel investigation revealed unconscious bias remains a significant issue for BAME young Londoners in the education system.

Government research has also found that black students are most likely to have their grades under-predicted.

In the wake of the downgrading controversy in Scotland, the Government have now introduced a so-called ‘triple-lock’ system, which will allow pupils in England to either stick with their awarded grade, appeal against it based on their mock-exam results, or sit exams in the Autumn.

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