Calls to re-mark Suffolk GCSE exams

PUBLISHED: 10:07 01 September 2012

Students celebrate GCSE success at East Point Academy, Lowestoft.

Students celebrate GCSE success at East Point Academy, Lowestoft.

© Archant 2012

Education bosses in Suffolk have demanded all English GCSE papers be re-marked after exam regulator Ofqual acknowledged grade boundaries changed part of the way through the year.

Following an inquiry into GCSE English marks, which in some Suffolk schools were 20pc lower than expected, Ofqual have stood by the new June grading system but have offered students the chance to retake their exams.

But Suffolk County Council says exam papers should be re-marked, not retaken.

In its initial report into this summer’s English results, Ofqual said the January GCSE English exams, which give students an idea of what grades to expect, were “graded generously” but the June boundaries were properly set and candidates’ work correctly marked.

They said it had concluded that when exam boards came to set grade boundaries in June, they were “better equipped to make judgments as there was more information available”.

It admitted that the grade boundaries were higher in June than they were in January and students who gained their English GCSE this summer would be given an extra chance to re-sit in November,

Suffolk schools reported English results being 20% lower than expected. This meant that many pupils who were expecting a crucial C grade were given a D.

Angry headteachers pledged to help those who had missed the grades needed in order to carry on with A-levels, with some even willing to ignore the disputed marks altogether.

Graham Newman, cabinet member for education and young people at Suffolk County Council, said: “This is absolutely not what Suffolk school leaders have asked for, and exactly what the pupils themselves can do without.

“It will not reduce their uncertainty – about their eligibility to continue to sixth form, or take up employment offers dependent on them getting a Grade C at English GCSE.

“It doesn’t address the particularly contested issue of the boundary between C and D grades. It also doesn’t address other marking issues which have been identified in other subjects.

“I support the campaign to get these papers remarked as soon as possible, for greater standardisation of grading between the different examination boards [which is a significant issue between schools in Suffolk] and also standardisation of the marking regime between January and June sittings.”

Graham White, Suffolk secretary for the National Union of Teachers, demanded an independent inquiry.

He said: “I simply do not agree that the January papers were graded ‘generously’.

“If you compare the January grades to last year’s June results, they fall in line. If you compare year on year then this year’s June grades are substantially lower than last year.”

He added: “It is just not acceptable that students can resit in November. Many students have moved on to their new lives.

“Think of those who have finished school at 16 and are now at work or an apprentice. They potentially have left school with a lower English grade than they deserve.”

The headteachers’ union, ASCL, said the Ofqual ruling was “wholly unacceptable” and is threatening legal action.

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