'An abuse of power': Schools and pupils take GCSE grade row to High Court
Alliance is fighting for judicial review after teenagers were ‘victims of statistical fix’
Richard Garner has been Education Editor of The Independent for 12 years and writing about the subject for 34 years. Before becoming a journalist, he worked as a disc jockey in London pubs and clubs and for a hospital radio station. His main hobbies are cricket (watching these days) and theatre. On his days off, he is most likelt to be found at Lord’s or the King’s Head Theatre Club.
Tuesday 11 December 2012
More than 32,000 teenagers were victims of this year’s GCSE English marking fiasco, the High Court in London has heard.
The pupils, who sat the exam in June, obtained higher marks than many awarded a C grade in January – but were awarded lower grades, said Clive Sheldon, representing an alliance calling for a judicial review of the grading of this year’s exams.
He said the awarding of grades this year had been “manifestly unfair” and an “abuse of power” by exam boards the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA) and Edexcel supported by exams regulator Ofqual.
He produced evidence to show that in one English exam, the C grade boundary was raised 10 marks from 43 out of 80 to 53, trapping 32,097 pupils who scored between 44 and 48 marks, and leaving them with a D grade pass.
The court case, brought by an alliance of schools, pupils, local authorities and teachers’ organisations, is unprecedented – the first time pupils’ grades have rested on the decision of High Court judges.
Ofqual, the exams regulator, had insisted that exam boards stick within a 1 per cent tolerance threshold of predicted grades. thus subjecting candidates to “illegitimate grade manipulation” and a “statistical fix”. This followed its policy of “comparative outcomes”, ie, that grades should be roughly the same year on year.
“No school, no teacher, no student could have anticipated such radical changes to the boundaries from those which had been set by the examination boards in February 2012,” he said.
He produced evidence of unease among exam board officials. In one email, obtained by the alliance from Edexcel,an official, Emma Whale, said to another: “Apparently our cumulative percentage at C on English is 41 and they (Ofqual) want it down to 34.7$ and so we’ve got until tomorrow to make it happen. Am really worried at that figure, it’s so low. Man, the system really sucks.”
The alliance included an email sent by Glenys Stacey, chief executive of Ofqual, to Mr Rod Bristow, a senior official at Ofqual, which said: “I want to be sure the position is well understood. It looks like we need to direct Edexcel about something you may wish to do with a direction – and it would be good to talk.” Glenys Stacey thenrang Mr Bristow and confirmed that if Edexcel did not implement further increases to its grade boundaries Ofqual would direct it to do so, the submission added.
The case, which is expected to last for days, with judgment being reserved until next week, is being heard by High Court judges Sir Patrick Elias and Mrs Justice Sharp.
Outside the court, headteachers gathered to lend their support to the court action. Mike Griffiths, head of Northampton School for Boys, said five of his students had missed out on A/A* grades and had been forced to abandon plans to consider going to Oxbridge.
Isis could become 'world’s first truly terrorist state' and bomb UK with nuclear and chemical weapons, Theresa May warns
Car tax disc changes: Five facts you never knew about your (almost obsolete) tax disc
Five-year-old Iris Grace is raising awareness of autism through her extraordinary paintings
Isis an hour away from Baghdad - with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
The Aral Sea: Nasa pictures show how what was once the fourth largest lake in the world has become almost completely dry
Isis, we are told, is a 'clear and dangerous threat to our way of life'. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
- 1 Green village to be bulldozed and mined for lignite in Germany's quest for non-nuclear fuel
- 4 Teenagers irritable because early school hours mess with their biological clocks
- 5 Now we know whose fault it is if you end up being murdered in Thailand
- < Previous
- Next >
£100 - £105 per day + plus Travel Scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: The Job:...
£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to work in ...
£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...
£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant We are curr...