Brilliant Club

Fair Access Coalition and the Fair Education Alliance

14 Aug 2020

Fair Access Coalition: Statement regarding A-level grade allocations

A group of leading educational access charities and not-for profit organisations is calling for the government to take action to ensure that young people from less advantaged backgrounds do not face additional barriers in accessing further study, training and employment opportunities, following the allocation of A-level grades this year.

We recognise that the circumstances surrounding this year’s A-levels made any ideal outcome impossible, but it is clear that – in a significant number of cases – individual students have been left with their future plans in disarray. What’s more concerning is that many of these students are from the least advantaged backgrounds. These are the young people who already face the biggest barriers in accessing higher education; barriers that have been compounded during lockdown. Every hour, we are encountering more young people whose plans for university, apprenticeships or jobs have been seriously affected because they were statistical exceptions.

We note that Ofqual’s Technical Report details that the A/A* attainment gap between FSM and non-FSM students increased from 6.1% in 2019 to 7.1% in 2020, reversing progress made the prior year. Furthermore, independent schools saw a 4.7 percentage point increase in A/A* grades compared to just 0.3pp at Sixth Form/FE/Tertiary colleges.

As coalitions, working collaboratively to tackle educational inequality, our priority is to focus on how we, and the government, can best support young people. We call upon the government to ensure that no student, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, has their opportunity of work, training or study compromised by being graded unfairly by an algorithm.

We urge the government to do this by:


Nathan Samson, CEO, The Access Project,

Anne-Marie Canning MBE, CEO, The Brilliant Club,

Laura Gray, CEO, Brightside,

Sam Holmes, CEO, Causeway Education,

Maria Neophytou, Acting CEO, Impetus,

Rachel Carr OBE, CEO, IntoUniversity,

Johnny Rich, CEO, Push,

John Craven, CEO, upReach,

Rae Tooth, CEO, Villiers Park Education Trust,

Sam Butters and Gina Cicerone, Co-CEOs, Fair Education Alliance,

On social media: #coalitionforfairness