The Daily Telegraph leads with what it describes as “fresh exam turmoil” for close to half a million BTec students after the “11th hour” decision to withhold results due today. It says the development will heap further pressure on Education Secretary Gavin Williamson for not including BTecs in the original “about turn” on grades.
The Times says that Mr Williamson was told directly, six week ago, about the risk that A-level and GCSE grading would produce unfair results – but pushed ahead anyway. The paper says it was told by a “senior source” at the Department for Education that concerns about the statistical formula were raised in a letter by a former director general for schools – Sir Jon Coles.
A government source said Mr Williamson had raised the issue with the regulator, Ofqual, and had been “given assurances”. The Times suggests its “revelation” appears at odds with Mr Williamson’s claim that the scale of the problem only became clear at the weekend.
The Guardian, in a similar vein, says a warning was made to Ofqual about flaws in its grading algorithm, at least a month before A-level results were published. But the paper says the regulator pressed ahead because of longstanding ministerial pressure to prevent grade inflation.
The Guardian also believes this raises questions about when Mr Williamson became aware of the unfairness of the process.
Apple’s astonishing success features prominently in the business pages after it became the first US company to hit a valuation of $2tn. According to The Times it was helped by a “lockdown sales surge” for products such as its iPad and iPhone.
The story is front page news for the Financial Times, which says Apple’s shares have risen more than 50% this year despite the company having to close stores, and being reliant on suppliers in China. But the FT warns that some analysts are concerned that shares may become over-valued.
The spread of coronavirus dominates the papers in Spain. El Mundo says cases have “skyrocketed” with 127 deaths in the last 24 hours. La Vanguardia reports that there were nearly 4,000 positive tests for Covid-19 on Wednesday – the most since the original lockdown was eased.
In France, Le Figaro reports that the number of infections there is rising – particularly among young adults. Le Monde says health measures against Covid-19 are increasing in large cities and tourist areas. Masks are now fully or partly compulsory in more than a third of French cities.
The Daily Express is one of those to pick up on an interview by the French chef Raymond Blanc with Country Life magazine. It highlights his comments that so many of his customers suffer food allergies, his kitchen has become “like a hospital” and food intolerance has become “almost like a fashion item”.
The Michelin-starred chef doesn’t accuse customers of making it up though – he suggests the allergies are a result of eating intensively farmed food containing chemicals. The Daily Telegraph highlights Mr Blanc’s suggestion that easy home food deliveries are making cooking “alien” to many. He’s quoted as saying: “We live busy lives and even an omelette requires effort”.