Michael Gove under pressure to make exams statement

 

Michael Gove was today facing calls to come to Parliament and make a statement on resolving a growing row over the grading of GCSE English exams.

Mr Gove is due to answer scheduled education questions from MPs at 2.30pm in the Commons but Speaker John Bercow may face a request for an Urgent Question to the Education Secretary if he does not ask to make a formal statement.

Labour's education spokesman Stephen Twigg yesterday urged Mr Gove to answer questions on the row, which began after it emerged GCSE English grading boundaries had been altered between January and May exams, meaning some students predicted to obtain a C grade finished with a D.

Trade unions have threatened legal action over the issue but exams regulator Ofqual has said it would be inappropriate for either of the sets of exams to be reconsidered. Resits will be allowed earlier than normal in November.

Mr Twigg said Mr Gove had to lead on the issue when speaking on yesterday's Sky News Murnaghan programme.

He said: "Parliament comes back tomorrow and we expect him to come to Parliament and to set out what's going to happen because there is a basic unfairness here. If you were assessed in January you could get a grade C. The same quality of work, maybe even slightly better work, assessed in May and you would have got a D. That cannot be right.

"I'm all in favour of rigour, I'm in favour of making sure these are tough exams, but you can't change the boundaries in the middle of the year.

"We need a full inquiry into what went wrong, we need to make sure this doesn't happen again next year, which is why I have suggested the select committee on education should take a detailed look at that.

"But before then, we need to try and avert there being legal action... let's try to resolve this in the next few days.

"I think the Secretary of State, Michael Gove, should be calling Ofqual and the exam boards in to try to sort this out so that these young people aren't at a disadvantage."

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Prime Minister David Cameron defended the need for tougher exams.

He said: "In schools there will be no more excuses for failure; no more soft exams and soft discipline.

"We saw that change in the exam results this year. When the grades went down a predictable cry went up: that we were hurting the prospects of these children.

"To that we must be very clear: what hurts them is dumbing down their education so that their potential is never reached and no one wants to employ them. 'All must have prizes' is not just patronising, it is cruel - and with us it is over."

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Mr Gove denied putting pressure on exam boards to make grading tougher.

He said: "No, I absolutely did not put any pressure on any exam boards.

"I made it clear that no pressure was put by central Government, by me or any other minister, on any exam board.

"How each exam paper is marked and how the marks are allocated is ultimately a decision for the exam boards.

"I cannot interfere in that process."

Responding to calls by angry students to answer questions over the row, the Education Secretary said he had "an enormous amount of sympathy" for those who had not received the grades they were expecting.

But he said the Government was not to blame, insisting students had been let down by an "inherited" exam system that is "not fit for purpose."

"I feel that they were let down," he added. "The exam was designed in a way that I don't think was entirely fair for them."

He said the current system of splitting subjects into modules and allowing students to sit the exams at different times was to blame for grade inflation.

"I think the GCSEs shouldn't be modular examinations," he said.

"We have made changes to make sure they won't be split up in that way.

"All the exams will be taken at the same time in the same way.

"The situation we inherited that was designed before we came to power was not fair."

Vowing to reform the system, he added: "What is right is that we make sure that in the future we make sure this situation cannot occur again by making sure our exam system is reformed."

Mr Gove is due to answer scheduled education questions from MPs at 2.30pm in the Commons. He was not asked whether he planned to make a formal statement.

PA

 

Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

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

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Food Technology Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

Physics Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Reading: Physics Teacher required for ...

year 4/5/6

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you looking for a full...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week