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Social justice not biased judgement - Jason Keeler

August 18, 2020 3:18 PM
By Jason Keeler

Jason Keeler

The recent A level debacle left many young people not only devastated by the grades awarded to them by use of an algorithm, but in increased anxiety over the lack of clarity in the appeal process and what's going to happen to their futures.

Liberal Democrat MP and Education Spokesperson Layla Moran, who is a former maths and physics teacher, has carefully examined the algorithm and declared that it is "without a doubt, biased", adversely impacting those in larger classes and in state schools in deprived areas.

On 17th August the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, finally responded to the outcry and made a U-turn, accepting that the system based on centre assessed grades which we had been calling for was "the fairest" and would be adopted. Sadly, this has come too late for many students who have lost university places or had to postpone going to university for a year. Next year's A level students will want to know that they, too, will not be subject to the application of a biased algorithm.

The same computer model was due to be used for the GCSEs, with an even bigger effect on the results and over 97% of grades not decided by the teachers who usually have known their pupils over at least the last 2 years. Fortunately, it will now be abandoned, in favour of teacher assessments unless the algorithm would give a pupil a higher grade in any individual case.

Youth services across the UK have been a fundamental part of our communities and a report from the YMCA earlier this year highlighted that there has been a real terms cut of over 70% (£1 billion) by local authorities over the last 10 years. This should be urgently reviewed and funding reinstated, given the added pressure on jobs and career opportunities that young people are going to feel.

Over the last few years youth engagement in national & global events has increased immensely and now, more than ever, is required to help us move forward with sustainable and productive policies for the future.

Globally the climate crisis is now more important than ever and young people have been instrumental in helping to thrust into the public domain The Liberal Democrats support them whole-heartedly, through a comprehensive and practical environmental policy including a green-based recovery from Covid-19.

Finally, as a swimming coach for over 10 years and most recently Director of Swimming in Amersham & Chesham I strongly believe in the physical and mental health benefits of sports & leisure for everybody and especially young people. Despite the government's supposed push for healthy lifestyles, it looks like over 30% of council owned leisure centres will not reopen until 2021, with many never reopening. This is a terrible state of affairs and we need to push for government support to help the sport & leisure industry (#saveleisure). Most recently the 'Wembley' of Swimming, Ponds Forge International Sports Centre has been confirmed as being mothballed for the foreseeable future.

All these short-sighted and ill-conceived decisions on A-Levels, Youth Services and Sports & Leisure fail properly to take into account the future societal and economic impact that spending money on these areas will provide for the future of this country.

Jason Keeler,

Youth Representative.

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