Teachers ‘over-predict’ students’ results in race for university places

The Mail is reporting that the head of Ucas has suggested teachers are intentionally bumping up students’ predicted A-level grades to help them win places at top universities.

It comes as institutions are now “more flexible” with grade requirements amid intense competition to attract students, Mary Curnock Cook said.

She said some teachers had told her they are “over-predicting” sixth-formers’ results to help them secure initial offers from universities that may be asking for high grades…

Last year, more than half of students accepted on to degree courses had missed their results by two or more grades, spread over three qualifications, Ms Curnock Cook said.

Speaking at a conference on higher education at Wellington College, Berkshire, she said: “I talk to a lot of schools and people who advise students and in the past I would have said ‘surely you wouldn’t be over-predicting your students on purpose?’, and actually just this last summer really, I had teachers coming back to me and saying ‘actually, yes we would’.

“I’ll show you why, because actually, accepted applicants, the number who are being accepted with quite significant discounts on their offers and their predicted grades has grown quite a lot…

As universities compete for students they are being “more flexible with their entry grades,” she added.

Speaking after, Ms Curnock Cook said: “It’s not like it’s come out of nowhere, predicted grades have always been slightly inaccurate and they’ve always been more likely to be over-predicted.

“I think people have thought of predicted grades as a way of signalling what they think a person is capable of, if everything goes perfectly. So it’s not a huge change, but the way that the market has played out means that some teachers will take a strategic approach to their predictions.”…

More at Teachers ‘over-predict’ students’ results in race for university places


So what’s the message here? Is the system set up so teachers need to be doing this?

If so, isn’t the whole system crazy? If you are going to judge people on their grades surely it should be on their actual grades, not what a teacher pressured into game-playing might predict for them?

Is it time for post A-level applications to put a stop to this?

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Categories: Higher Education, Secondary and Teaching.


  1. Cordy59

    SchoolsImprove My eldest had experience of this.He didn’t realise you could ask your teachers to do this – his classmates did & got offers.

  2. It’s time to consider post-result applications.  This would be a logistic nightmare at present but it could perhaps be done by bringing A level exams forward to, say, the second half of the Spring term.
    That shouldn’t mean pupils would then leave school at Easter.  They could spend post-A level time on such things as university preparation, applying for Level 4 apprenticeships, doing mini-enterprise (useful for those would-be entrepreneurs), completing Duke of Edinburgh award schemes or similar, in-school work experience helping with younger pupils…
    Attendance would encouraged by making it clear such post A level work would be given on references.  Absence from post A level schemes would speak volumes to prospective HE providers or employers.

  3. Cordy59

    SchoolsImprove Easier to retain an offer when you don’t quite get the IB points than to have the unis look at you anew in August.

  4. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove This all boils down to universities becoming more business than education (arguably) with the fees; not healthy though

Let us know what you think...