A-level injustice - taking the government to court

I’m Curtis. I’m 18 years old, I’m from Ealing, and I’ve just finished my A-levels. Today I am launching a judicial review challenge to the government’s unfair system for deciding this year’s A-level and GCSE exam “results”.

It’s discriminatory to mark individual students down based on what school they go to. It is a breach of Ofqual’s powers for it to allocate so many grades disconnected from individual achievement, and unfair for Ofqual, contrary to its own policies and without any consultation, to change its approach from the one it announced in May.

It is also a violation of the GDPR to give an automated algorithm so much power over young people’s futures and to rely on an algorithm that leads to wide-scale unfairness. Individuals must have the right to appeal the results they have been given and their teacher’s predictions, specific to them, must be given proper weight.

That is why I’m taking the government to court to force them to come up with a fairer system. You can read the full legal letter that has been sent by clicking here.

I have been concerned about this for some time. I wrote to my local MP Rupa Huq MP about this back in early August. Then earlier this week I started the petition on change.org calling on the government to fix this. Over 100,000 people have signed it.

I’m lucky enough to have done okay in my own A level results, but I’m disgusted that so many people have had their predictions downgraded to fit a statistical model, and that this has hit students from poorer backgrounds disproportionately.

The Team

I have got a really strong legal team on this case. Foxglove are supporting me - they are experts in issues to do with government algorithms, and just a couple of weeks ago won another case, forcing the Home Office to stop using an unfair visa algorithm. They’ve helped me assemble my legal team of solicitor Rosa Curling at Leigh Day, David Wolfe QC at Matrix Chambers, Ciar McAndrew at Monckton Chambers and Estelle Dehon at Cornerstone Barristers.

What I am raising funds for

I need to raise funds for this judicial review. In particular I need to have a fund to protect me against “adverse costs”. I plan to spend everything I raise on costs related to the legal challenge. We've smashed our original goal of raising £15,000, so to make sure I'm as protected as best as possible from having to pay Ofqual's legal fees, we've raised the goal to £25,000.

My lawyers are working on what is called a conditional fee agreement. This means I don’t have to pay them. They will recover their costs from the other side in the event that we win the case.

If the government fixes the system before the case goes ahead, people who kindly donate will be offered a refund, and anything left over will be donated to good causes tackling misuse of algorithms and educational inequality. And if we go to court and end up with money left over, it'll be donated in much the same way.

Almost 40% of A-level assessments have been downgraded, potentially impacting the futures of thousands of young people. For a lot of pupils, the algorithm doesn’t even consider what our own teachers predicted we’d get. There isn’t a proper appeals process. Worst of all, pupils from poorer schools, with lower results historically, are being automatically marked down by the software.

Poorer pupils get marked down because of where they live and the school they go to, with their individual efforts and performance disregarded and their teacher’s assessments ignored. How can this be right?

This legal challenge will help the thousands of students up and down the country whose grades don’t reflect the hard work and effort that's been put in for the last two years. Please donate if you can and help me challenge this injustice.

Donations

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  • terence norman 
    • 20 £ 
    • 2 mos
  • Lydia Tischler 
    • 25 £ 
    • 2 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • 10 £ 
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  • Liz Byrne 
    • 30 £ 
    • 2 mos
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    • 5 £ 
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Fundraising team: Curtis and the team at Foxglove (2)

Curtis Parfitt-Ford 
Organizer
London, Greater London, United Kingdom
Martha Dark 
Team member
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