80% of head teachers losing confidence in GCSEs as lack of trust in grades is revealed

Ofqual survey shows two out of five heads and teachers believing at least a quarter of pupils have been given wrong marks

Education Editor

A widespread lack of confidence in the GCSE exam has been revealed in a survey of heads and teachers published by exams regulator Ofqual.

In all, 80 per cent of heads say they have less confidence in the GCSE than a year ago - largely as a result of the marking fiasco which saw the grade boundary in English for a C grade raised in between January and June sitting.

The survey also reveals a remarkable lack of trust in the accuracy of both GCSE grades and A-level grades awarded to pupils - with almost two out of five heads and teachers believing at least one in four pupils have been given the wrong marks. That would mean 150,000 pupils every year ending up with the wrong grades.

Ofqual’s report says the percentage of heads and teachers feeling confident about GCSEs was around 30 per cent lower than A-levels.

“The controversy (over the marking of English) also had a significant impact on the public’s confidence (in GCSEs),” the survey adds. “Two-fifths of the public and parents who had heard of the controversy reported that their confidence in the system had been affected “a lot” or “a fair amount” by the saga.

Lack of confidence had also spread to employers with 55 per cent of those in charge of small businesses also expressing reservations about the exam.

The Department for Education said the lack of confidence bolstered the need for reforming the exam - Education Secretary Michael Gove is planning to scrap the current modular approach to GCSE and most coursework. and go back to end-of-course exams.  The new-style GCSEs will be introduced into the classroom in September 2015.

“The Secretary of State warned when he came to office that the GCSE system had serious weaknesses and needed fundamental reform,” said a spokesman for the Department for Education. “The report shows these concerns are widespread.

“The changes we are making will restore confidence in GCSEs.”

However, many headteachers’ leaders argue that confidence has drained as a result of the exam boards being pressurised by Ofqual to change the boundaries and keep the results broadly the same as last year.

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “The drop in confidence is about the way the exams were marked not about modular exams or GCSE as a qualification.

“In no way does it justify claims by policy makers that GCSE is not fit for purpose.”

Glenys Stacey, Ofqual’s chief regulator, said: “We want to see confidence in GCSEs return as they become more robust and assessment is seen to be, and is, fair and accurate.  I think there is an appetite for change and improvement.”

By contrast, the survey has shown teachers’ confidence in A-levels growing.  Last year, 84 per cent of heads and 86 per cent of teachers said they were confident in the system.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux - Central London

£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux ...

Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrator - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrat...

Recruitment Genius: Nursery Manager

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Nursery Manager is required t...

Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Windo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before