Government appoints top civil servant to handle exams response

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The government has appointed a senior civil servant to lead on its response to exams amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Susan Acland-Hood will become the Department for Education’s second permanent secretary for six weeks.

It comes after a backlash and u-turn over A level and GCSE results.

The algorithm used to moderate this year’s grades led to thousands of students being downgraded – so the government reverted to teacher assessments to determine marks.

Early on in lockdown, the government cancelled exams due to take place over the summer due to the outbreak.

Students across the UK were still awarded grades for their courses in August, but the administrations in England, Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland all had to u-turn away from algorithms that lowered thousands of grades towards teacher assessments.

In a statement, the Cabinet Office said Ms Acland-Hood’s appointment would “ensure that the government is able to respond fully to exam results, whilst also ensuring the return of schools in September”.

The new deputy permanent secretary is currently the chief executive of Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service, but has previously worked as a director in the DfE and as a senior adviser on education policy in No 10.

She began her temporary role on Friday, and her deputy at the courts service, Kevin Sadler, will take over from her while she is in place.

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