COMMUNITY leaders were at odds in south Cumbria over the Government’s handling of exams during one of the most controversial results days in recent history.

Many students in the region were celebrating their results yesterday, but much of the day’s reaction was centred on the Government’s new ‘triple lock’ system, which allows pupils - whose grades were calculated according to mock exams and teacher predictions - to appeal their grades with the possibility of an autumn exam.

However, as one member of staff at Kendal College told The Mail yesterday, there has been a ‘lack of clarity’ as to eligibility and the navigation of the appeals process.

It emerged that 40 per cent of the final results in England were downgraded from teachers’ predictions, with private schools more than doubling their increased attainment of the top A and A* grades this year in comparison with comprehensives.

Putting a positive spin on the day's proceedings, the county council cabinet member for schools, Sue Sanderson, said: “Today is a day for celebration and although it will also be filled with mixed emotions for many I want to take this opportunity to congratulate our young people for staying positive during such a challenging time.

“I also want to say thank you to all the head teachers, teachers, parents and carers for all their support to our young people over the last few months.

"We must remember today is about people, it is about the future of our young people and I am immensely proud of everyone’s efforts.

"Whatever your results it is now time for you to focus on the future and the opportunities that lie ahead."

However, South Lakes MP Tim Farron blasted the Government’s approach to grading, and its handling of wider educational matters during the pandemic, calling Number 10's new system ‘shambolic’.

The former Liberal Democrat leader also said ministers had chosen not to trust teachers.

“This has been the most surreal and disruptive few months, especially for young people studying for life changing exams,” he said yesterday.

“Huge congratulations to all those people who got the grades they needed, and huge thanks to the teachers who helped to make that possible.

“However, for hundreds of local students the disruption of the last few months has now been turned into distress because of the Government’s shambolic approach to agreeing grades.

"In many cases, ministers have chosen not to trust our teachers and to instead use an untested system to award grades that are often far worse than the grades students would have actually got."

Cllr Bill McEwan, former Barrow mayor and governor at Ormsgill Primary School, was less critical of the Government's handling of the vital exams - which for many pupils can secure or prevent their accessing further or higher education.

He said: "It's a shame they had to go back to go back to their mocks.

"I'm glad for any students in the area who got what they wanted - and glad that those who didn't can re-sit in autumn.

"Another good thing is there might be more vacancies at universities this year because there will be fewer overseas students will be applying for places.

"In particular, well done to the teachers who got them through this tough period. It's a very nervous time for young people and I'm sure most will be happy just to have come out the other side of this.

"Af for the Government's handling of exams this year, the problem is I don't know what else they could've done other than go down the projected grades route within the circumstance."

Barrow MP Simon Fell was contacted for comment, but had not responded at the time of publication.