Gavin Williamson did not say pupils will be overpromoted into jobs that are beyond their competence
14 August 2020
What was claimed
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “The danger is that pupils will be overpromoted into jobs that are beyond their competence.”
This is not true and does not accurately reflect comments Mr Williamson made in The Daily Telegraph. This incorrect paraphrasing seems to have begun as a joke.
It has been widelyclaimed on social media that, in reference to A-level results day, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “The danger is that pupils will be overpromoted into jobs that are beyond their competence.” This is not true.
Mr Williamson wrote a piece for The Daily Telegraph on 13 August 2020, which was A-level results day, about the system being used for grading A-levels. The system being used is different this year after the Covid-19 pandemic led to all exams being cancelled. The evening before, 12 August, The Daily Telegraph tweeted a picture of its front page for the next day, which included a news story containing quotes from Mr Williamson’s article.
The story was headlined “Boosting exam grades ‘would harm Generation Covid for life’”. In the quotes, Mr Williamson said that giving results based only on the predicted grades of teachers would mean results were considerably higher this year, which he said would “devalue the results for the class of 2020”.
He added: “But worse than that, it would mean that students this year would lose out twice over, both in their education and their future prospects.”
If the results are devalued, this would suggest that universities or employers might not take high results seriously, rather than pupils being overpromoted.
Daisy Christodoulou, an education specialist, noted on Twitter that shortly after The Daily Telegraph front page was tweeted on 12 August, it was retweeted by financial journalist Philip Coggan with the caption: “The danger is that pupils will be overpromoted into jobs that are beyond their competence, says Gavin Williamson.”
This caption was not written as a direct quote. The next day, Mr Coggan tweeted: “Just to emphasise, as I think most people realised, this was a joke based on the tone of Williamson's remarks.” However, by this point the ‘joke’ had been widely shared as a fact.
On Twitter, the Department for Education warned about the “false statement”, writing: “A false statement attributed to the Secretary of State has been widely circulated today regarding the standardisation of A-level grades and students’ future career prospects.
“The Secretary of State said if grades weren’t standardised it “would devalue the results for the class of 2020. But worse than that, it would mean that students this year would lose out twice over, both in their education and their future prospects”.”
This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here.
For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as false
because this does not accurately reflect the comments made by Gavin Williamson.
Conspiracies, bad reporting and scams threaten to prolong the pandemic. Will you stand up for an honest 2021?
This year we fact checked hundreds of false and unsubstantiated claims about the coronavirus. As we look to 2021, conspiracy theories about vaccines, and inaccurate reporting about important statistics threaten to prolong the pandemic. We need your support to call out false and harmful claims, and protect people across the UK from bad information.
It’s the Big Give Christmas Challenge, and this week only–you have the chance to double your impact.
Now is the time to make a difference. We have an ambitious fundraising target of £53,000 to ensure millions of people across the UK can access impartial information, on issues that affect their lives.
Anything you donate towards our target will be matched by our matching pot–meaning your gift will have twice the impact, at no extra cost to you.
With bad information showing no signs of stopping, can we count on you this week for a more honest 2021?