i Editor's Letter: 'Children's grades are no game'


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The Independent Online


Nothing should surprise us within an alleged meritocracy that rewards Jeremy Hunt with promotion to Health Secretary, when by any credible yardstick he should have resigned. Nevertheless it would take some Hunt-like chutzpah for Glenys Stacey to stay in her role as Ofqual boss after the latest developments in the GCSE grades fiasco.

The revelations, via letters first obtained by the TES, that Ofqual itself had put pressure on the Edexcel board to shift the grade boundaries despite the board's reservations is bad enough. That it did so just a few weeks before the summer grades were issued, and subsequently played dumb, is simply appalling.

Stacey has now admitted she would have forced the boundaries to have been changed if Edexcel had not done so, but "pressure"? No sir. Not me sir. Oh, and to make matters even worse, the English GCSEs at the heart of the row are to be remarked in Wales, but not England. Yet.

As many an anxious parent has written to us: children's grades are no game. But, even in games you do not bend or change the rules halfway through, as happened this school year.

Michael Gove has a real opportunity now. He can show that he is not an arrogant ideologue by ordering a regrading, or reveal his true intent by carrying on regardless, even so far as to close schools that are suddenly "failing".

Behind the farce we see again the insidious effect of not just the heinous school league tables, but exam board league tables. When will we wake up and stop messing with our children's lives? For many it is already too late.