A-level results row: Matt Hancock ‘recognises’ concerns over medical student places

The health secretary has pledged to do “everything we can” to ensure A-level medical students unfairly downgraded can still get a place at university.

Matt Hancock told Sky News “I absolutely recognise” the concerns raised by the Royal College of GPs that pupils whose marks were lower than their teachers’ predictions are missing out on their top choice for further study.

It is just one of the many practical problems thrown up by the exams U-turn earlier this week.

Professor Martin Marshall, chair of the Royal College of GPs, claimed a “large number of potential medical students” have missed out on their university place due to the decision that came five days after results were released last Thursday.

He said it was “deeply worrying” that students affected may come from areas which are under-doctored.

The number of places are “strictly limited” due to a government cap on funding, Prof Marshall added.

At least 20% more places to study medicine are needed just to ensure there are enough GPs in the future, he continued.

The group is calling for more funding so that universities who have already filled course places can still take students who initially missed their offer because of the controversial algorithm, scrapped after fury from pupils.

Responding, Mr Hancock told Sky News “we’re doing everything that we can and we’re working on this issue right now”.

He added: “I acknowledge the issue, I absolutely recognise it.

“These are difficult challenges and this is something we’re working on now.”

Mr Hancock also threw his support behind Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, who the i newspaper reports offered his resignation but had it rejected by Number 10.

He said the embattled cabinet minister facing calls to resign was trying to do his best in “difficult circumstances” and the focus should remain on reopening schools in September.

“I don’t think we should be distracted from that task now,” he told Kay [email protected]

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Downing Street has said since the debacle that it has full confidence in Mr Williamson.

But the education secretary and his Whitehall department have not denied he did offer to quit.

Boris Johnson, who is on holiday in Scotland, last week defended the algorithm that saw nearly 40% of results in England downgraded and appeared to favour private schools by increasing the number of top grades handed to them compared to state comprehensives by double, year-on-year.

The prime minister had said the system was “robust” and “dependable”.

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