Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

The impact of COVID‐19 on A Level exams in England: Students as consumers

Bhopal, Kalwant; Myers, Martin


Kalwant Bhopal


The recent global outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic created significant challenges for society, not least for education. England went into lockdown in March 2020; following this, A Level exams were cancelled and the Department for Education announced that results were to be determined by teacher-assessed grades. This paper draws upon research conducted during this time with A Level students. It is based on a total of 53 Skype interviews with students who had their A Level exams cancelled, most of whom had ambitions to start university in September 2020. A number of striking findings emerged from the study. Students were well-informed about the changes to the A Level exam assessment and the impact structural inequalities were likely to have on assessed grades. White students and those from independent fee-paying schools were consistently more satisfied with the measures put in place to assess their grades compared to students from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds. However, all students—regardless of their background—identified patterns of unfairness which were based on structural inequalities. We conclude that these findings point to students adopting some of the attributes of the ‘student as consumer’, not by concentrating on choices associated with free market economies such as ‘good value’, but rather by identifying more ethical ‘values’ within education.


Bhopal, K., & Myers, M. (2023). The impact of COVID‐19 on A Level exams in England: Students as consumers. British Educational Research Journal, 49(1), 142-157.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 25, 2022
Online Publication Date Sep 17, 2022
Publication Date 2023-02
Deposit Date Sep 9, 2022
Publicly Available Date Sep 20, 2022
Journal British Educational Research Journal
Print ISSN 0141-1926
Electronic ISSN 1469-3518
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 49
Issue 1
Pages 142-157
Keywords Education
Public URL
Publisher URL


You might also like

Downloadable Citations