UK government makes dramatic exam results U-turn after national outcry

Olivia Styles, 18, from Basingstoke, sets fire to her A-level results during a peaceful protest in Parliament Square, London, in response to the mass downgrading of exams.

(CNN)UK school students will now receive the grades their teachers predicted for them in their critically-important A-level and GCSE exams, after regulators announced a dramatic U-turn following a national controversy and protests over exam results.

English, Welsh and Northern Irish regulators said Monday that A-levels, which determine university entrance and are usually taken by 18-year-olds, would no longer be determined by a controversial algorithm.
After the exams were canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, students were instead graded based on an algorithm -- the results of which were announced last Thursday.
    This saw close to 40% of students' A-level grades in England downgraded from those predicted by their teachers, according to the Office for Qualifications and Exam Regulation (Ofqual).
    More than 200,000 results were downgraded, changing the futures of tens of thousands of students who needed set grades to get into university.
    Many students lost out on places at their chosen universities because they were not given the grades they were predicted. Campaigners say that the downgrading disproportionately affected students from more disadvantaged and diverse schools.
    The widespread downgrading left young people heartbroken and sparked mass protests, with students seen burning their results in London's Parliament Square.
    UK students protest against A-level exam results being decided by an algorithm, after their exams were canceled because of coronavirus.
    In an interview after the U-turn was announced on Monday afternoon, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said he was "incredibly sorry for all those students who have been through this."
    Williamson said the government had tried to "ensure that we have the fairest possible system," but that there were "unfairnesses" in the way the grades were allocated.
    "Over the weekend it became clearer to me that there were a ... number of students who were getting grades that frankly they shouldn't have been getting," he said, adding that it was "apparent that action needed to be taken."