With the controversy surrounding this year’s A Level results showing no signs of abating, a growing number of parties are set to pursue various legal challenges against the Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson and Ofqual.
There has been a flurry of activity since the announcement of results on Thursday, when it was confirmed that nearly 40 per cent of A Level grades were marked down from teachers’ predictions via an Ofqual algorithm.
The claims so far
The Good Law Project
- Last Friday, The Lawyer reported that Jolyon Maugham QC’s Good Law Project had brought together a quickly-assembled legal team ahead of its litigation against the UK Government, with Simpson Millar partner Dan Rosenberg instructing Landmark Chambers’ Fiona Scolding QC, Leon Glenister and Yasser Vanderman.
- Employment specialist Rosenberg has particular expertise in judicial review proceedings, while Fiona Scolding QC also has a keen focus on education law.
- The Good Law Project has so far raised over £70,000 in an attempt to cover legal costs and confirmed it is working with six young people who have been directly impacted by the downgrading debacle.
Leigh Day and Foxglove
- Leigh Day has teamed up with algorithm specialist Foxglove to represent A Level student Curtis Parfitt-Ford.
- The 18-year-old from Ealing is launching a judicial review challenge against the Government’s “unfair system” for deciding this year’s results and has so far raised nearly £30,000.
- Leigh Day associate solicitor Rosa Curling is leading the case for Parfitt-Ford, duly instructing Matrix Chambers’ David Wolfe QC, Monckton’s Ciar McAndrew and Cornerstone’s Estelle Dehon.
- David Wolfe QC’s public law practice has led to his involvement in a number of challenges against the Government.
The Mayor of Greater Manchester
- After criticising the exam results chaos over the weekend, Andy Burnham took to Twitter on Monday morning to confirm that he will be initiating legal action against Ofqual. He has already instructed “leading counsel” and is expecting to write to Ofqual later on today.
So it looks like the Government ARE digging in and standing by their deeply flawed system.
In that case, I will be taking legal advice this morning and have instructed leading Counsel. I expect to be writing to @ofqual later today to initiate action. https://t.co/PJp3PW9Hyi
— Andy Burnham (@AndyBurnhamGM) August 17, 2020
Mishcon de Reya
The firm is understood to have been instructed by a number of individuals and their families in relation to independent challenges to A Level results.
A couple of posts on the firm website this morning have already discussed the data protection pitfalls of the recent scandal, one of which revealed that the firm has made a Freedom of Information to Ofqual.
- Newly-appointed director of legal Daniel Gutteridge will be tasked with defending the regulator from the array of claims coming their way, recently replacing the outgoing Natalie Prosser.
- However, Ofqual does have experience of high-profile exam-related litigation in the High Court.
- It was back in 2012 that a group of 300 claimants brought an action over the change of grade boundaries for GCSE English exams. The regulator ultimately triumphed in the case, represented by legacy firm Wragge & Co and Matrix Chambers’ Helen Mountfield QC, Sarah Hannett and Raj Desai.
- More recently, The Lawyer‘s Litigation Tracker shows that Ofqual has been involved in three concluded High Court cases since 2015. Gowling WLG has acted on two of the disputes, while DWF was involved in the other.