Sun. Oct 2nd, 2022

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After the Government was forced into an embarrassing U-turn earlier this week, ministers will today seek to move on from the exams debacle with a series of meetings and interviews. Mr Williamson bowed to pressure and abandoned the algorithm-based system which saw close to 40 percent of A-level results downgraded last week.

Instead, youngsters will now be graded on their teachers’ predictions for both A-level and GCSE results.

GCSE students will receive their grades on Thursday.

But the turnaround came too late for thousands of A-level students who have already made choices about universities based on the grades they were initially awarded.

Following uproar from students, teachers and parents, many of whom protested against the algorithm system, the Government is seeking to change the news agenda.

On Wednesday Health Secretary Matt Hancock will tour broadcast studios after announcing a major boost to crucial COVID-19 infection rate research earlier this morning.

Mr Hancock slapped down calls for Mr Williamson to quit his Cabinet position, saying they were a distraction at a time when he is focused on getting children back to school next month.

The health secretary said all ministers are “trying to do their best” in unprecedented circumstances, adding: “And I know that is true of Gavin Williamson”.

Mr Hancock also acknowledged calls to increase student places at medical schools and promised that the Government is working on the issue.

But Mr Hancock defended his fellow Cabinet minister, saying that he is focused on trying to get all children back to school for the new term after their education was disrupted by coronavirus closures.

He said: “These are unprecedented circumstances and I think everybody is working their hardest and trying to do their best in very difficult circumstances, and I know that is true of Gavin Williamson as it is of all members of the Government.

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“The big focus is on getting schools back and open at the start of next month, an incredibly important task.

“I don’t think we should be distracted from that task now. We need to absolutely focus on it.”

Mr Hancock’s interview came as a report in The Times suggested students who were asked to defer until 2021 due to the lack of capacity at top universities could launch legal action against the Government.

Universities UK boss Alistair Jarvis has sent a letter to Mr Williamson and Universities Minister Michelle Donelan about the topic.

He said that in light of the Government’s U-turn and its decision to remove the cap on university places, more students will opt for higher-tier universities.

Mr Jarvis said this would lead to a funding shortfall for less-prestigious institutions.

He warned the Government would need to step in to help universities which would be hit by the changes.

He said: “A number of institutions will lose out from this very late policy change and will need significant financial support from Government to stabilise their finances.”

Mr Williamson is expected to meet with Chancellor Rishi Sunak to discuss the issue over the coming days.

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