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‘Bigger than the Dominic Cummings scandal’ — Ilford North MP says government must act to protect A-level students

PUBLISHED: 17:00 21 August 2020

Ilford North MP Wes Streeting visited Oaks Park High School in Newbury Park earlier this week to discuss the ongoing A-levels

Ilford North MP Wes Streeting visited Oaks Park High School in Newbury Park earlier this week to discuss the ongoing A-levels "fiasco". Picture: The Labour Party

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Ilford North MP Wes Streeting says the government must act to protect students, as he declared the ongoing A-levels saga “bigger than the Dominic Cummings scandal”.

Wes Streeting MP, pictured alongside Judith Garfield - London Assembly candidate for Havering and Redbridge  - & Steve Reed MP. Picture: The Labour PartyWes Streeting MP, pictured alongside Judith Garfield - London Assembly candidate for Havering and Redbridge - & Steve Reed MP. Picture: The Labour Party

Speaking during a visit to Oaks Park High School, Newbury Park, the MP pulled no punches.

“Pupils, parents and teachers here in Ilford and across the country continue to face confusion and chaos because of the government’s incompetence.

“Since the fiasco began I have been inundated with emails, letters and messages from people in my constituency who were terrified for what this meant for their children.”

While the government U-turn was welcomed, the issue is far from resolved; many students who now have the necessary grades still don’t have a guaranteed place of study, while others are still awaiting the issue of their correct teacher-assessed grades.

MP Steve Reed, Labour’s Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary, visiting Oaks Park High School earlier this week. Picture: The Labour PartyMP Steve Reed, Labour’s Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary, visiting Oaks Park High School earlier this week. Picture: The Labour Party

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The shadow exchequer secretary — accompanied on the visit by Judith Garfield, London Assembly candidate for Havering and Redbridge — said the government must fix the consequences of an algorithm which judged the young people “on their postcode, not their potential”.

Ms Garfield said the initial decision to use this algorithm has “caused untold stress and worry for students who should be excited about their future”.

It is not enough just to scrap this method; Labour say the government must now “bend over backwards” to ensure “no student falls through the cracks”.

The first step towards this is to offer a “cast-iron guarantee” that no student will lose out on their first choice destination; the second is to make sure that all students have their final grades by the end of this week.

This view is shared by Steve Reed, Labour’s shadow communities and local government secretary, who also visited the Newbury Park school.

Both Mr Streeting and Ms Garfield have strong links to Oaks Park, with each adamant that neither its students or its staff should pay the price for the government’s mistakes.

Mr Streeting said: “Oaks Park High School is an exceptionally well run school with amazing staff, facilities and support in place for students, so it broke my heart to hear stories from pupils of what they’ve been through over the past week.”


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