A-level students hold peaceful protest in Coventry city centre

Students and supporters gathered in Broadgate in protest of an “unfair” algorithm that saw some Coventry A-level students miss out on places at University.

Students and supporters gathered in Broadgate, Coventry city centre. Zarah Sultana MP in the centre foreground.

Pictured: Students and supporters gathered in Broadgate, Coventry city centre. Zarah Sultana MP can be seen in the centre foreground.

This past weekend, A-level students in Coventry organised a peaceful protest in opposition to the use of an algorithm to calculate students’ final grades.

The algorithm reportedly downgraded almost 40% of results, with The Guardian reporting that disadvantaged areas have been disproportionately downgraded more than affluent area.

The protest was held in front of the Lady Godiva statue in Broadgate, Coventry city centre, a location that has become a focal point for protests in Coventry following the Black Lives Matter protests in the city earlier this year.

Some of the protestors held cardboard and paper placards, with one reading: “Give us the grades we earned”.

Another held by an elderly gentleman compared the 2020 A-level grades at Sidney Stringer Academy in Coventry with the grades achieved in 2019 – 88% A*-B in 2019, compared to 45% in 2020 under the algorithm.

The protest was attended by Taiwo Owatemi and Zarah Sultana, both Members of Parliament (MPs) for Coventry, who last week called for a reversal of the use of the “unfair” Ofqual algorithm for A-level calculating grades.

Both MPs spoke at the gathering in Broadgate in support of the A-level students that had gathered.

Pictured: Taiwo Owatemi MP speaking to the crowd of students and supporters.

Ms Sultana told the crowd: “Far from being a level playing field, this grading system is locking-in class inequality, judging students by their postcode, not their potential. And it’s working class students like you guys who have been hit the hardest.”

She continued, “I’ve been in touch with students who have missed out on university offers and don’t know what they’re going to be doing.

“My heart breaks for you – because an algorithm concocted in some office in Whitehall is denying the hopes and opportunities of young people in Coventry.”

The MP concluded with a message addressed to the heart of Government: “Follow Scotland’s example, abandon your rigged algorithm and revert to teachers’ assessments. And Gavin Williamson, if you’re listening: start writing your resignation letter.”