Why did the A-level algorithm say no?

A-level protest Image copyright Victoria Jones
Image caption A protest over A-level results gathered in Westminster

Accusations of unfairness over this year's A-level results in England have focused on an "algorithm" for deciding results of exams cancelled by the pandemic.

This makes it sound Machiavellian and complicated, when perhaps its problems are really being too simplistic.

There have been two key pieces of information used to produce estimated grades: how students have been ranked in ability and how well their school or college has performed in exams in recent years.

So the results were produced by combining the ranking of pupils with the share of grades expected in their school. There were other minor adjustments, but those were the shaping factors.

It meant that at a national level there would be continuity - with this year's estimated results effectively mirroring the positions of recent years.

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What's next in the arguments over exam results?

Exam results Image copyright Reuters

In any other year the headlines for these A-level results would have been about the highest ever number of top A* and A grades.

There would probably have been some sniping about grade inflation - with almost 28% getting top grades in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and overtaking the previous record of 27%.

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'Final year like no other' PM tells school leavers

Boris Johnson
Image caption Boris Johnson recorded a video message to those who had missed out on school leaving events

"This is a final year like no other," said Boris Johnson, in a video message to those who left school during the lockdown.

In a rallying cry to those stepping out of school, without any of the usual leavers' rites of passage, the prime minister told them to "rugby tackle that opportunity to the floor".

Read full article 'Final year like no other' PM tells school leavers

School catch up: No such thing as a free launch

School Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Parents will be waiting to find out if schools will have all pupils back in September

The billion pound school catch-up plan for England aims to drag the return-to-school policy out of a quagmire of indecision.

Parents have been increasingly baffled by how few pupils have returned to school this term, confused by what would be offered over the summer and downright horrified at the idea that schools might not even go back full-time in September.

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How did going back to school lose the plot?

Classroom Image copyright Getty Images

What is happening with the great majority of children who are missing out on school in England?

That's not a random question - and, more puzzlingly, it's not one with an answer - because at the moment no-one really knows.

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Coronavirus: Can schools double classes with no extra rooms?

Children of key worker's at a school in Altrincham Image copyright Getty Images

Here's a practical maths conundrum, rather than a political question, about the plan to reopen schools in England.

And as a spoiler - the Department for Education says it will need to issue new guidance to sort it out.

Read full article Coronavirus: Can schools double classes with no extra rooms?

Coronavirus: Justin Welby gives biggest school assembly

Justin Welby
Image caption Justin Welby gave the first assembly for the online school created for the lockdown

Even for an archbishop this must have been a tough gig.

The Archbishop of Canterbury had to deliver a sermon to what was claimed to be the UK's biggest ever school assembly.

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Last survivor of transatlantic slave trade discovered

Matilda McCrear
Image caption Matilda McCrear lived until 1940 - the last survivor of the transatlantic slave trade

The transatlantic slave trade might seem like something from a distant and barbaric era - but a historian has found evidence its last survivor was alive in living memory.

Hannah Durkin, at Newcastle University, had previously identified the last surviving slave captured in Africa in the 19th Century and brought to United States as a woman called Redoshi Smith, who died in 1937.

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Reaching 130 million girls with no access to school

Learning in Niger Image copyright GPE/Kelley Lynch
Image caption A project to keep more girls in school in Niger - when in many poor countries girls are likely to miss out

In the time it takes to read this story, about eight girls under the age of 15 will have given birth - mostly in the world's poorest countries - and many will never go back to school.

Julia Gillard, former Australian prime minister, is campaigning for the right of girls to stay in education - and wants to stress the sense of urgency.

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Bad local transport linked to failing schools

Waiting for transport Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The study takes a look at school achievement in terms of transport connections

There is a striking overlap between places in England with slow public transport and places with struggling secondary schools, say researchers.

Instead of only looking at education data, researchers compared schools using journey times from the Department for Transport.

Read full article Bad local transport linked to failing schools