Watchdog's GCSE probe 'not enough'


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The Independent Online

The decision by exams regulator Ofqual to investigate the furore over last-minute changes to the GCSE English grade boundaries may not be enough to bring the contro- versy to a close, it was claimed yesterday.

Headteachers and opposition MPs welcomed the announcement by Ofqual that it would "look closely" into the controversy.

All sides welcome the decision by Ofqual to intervene. However, even if any investigation does side with heads in believing the grade boundaries were raised at the last minute – thus jeopardising the sixth-form or college places for up to 10,000 teenagers – many believe there would still be a need for an independent investigation into what went wrong.

Stephen Twigg, Labour's education spokesman, said there was a need for an independent cross-party inquiry – to be conducted by the Commons education select committee.

Kathryn James, director of policy for the National Association of Head Teachers, added: "I'm still absolutely clear that we do need an independent inquiry into what has gone on this summer."

The Association of School and College Leaders said it had collected evidence from more than 600 secondary schools to support the view that English exams sat by candidates in June were judged more harshly than those in January.

ASCL said it was considering mounting a legal challenge to the current grades. "The matter will only be resolved when injustices done to thousands of young people are resolved," said Brian Lightman, its general secretary, "We're certainly not calling it off yet."

Ofqual has said it will study the detail of how the grade boundaries were arrived at over the next few days and then meet the exam boards to discuss its findings.

Heads have said boundaries for a C grade were raised by up to 12 marks after several thousand students sat the paper early in January.