Examiner quits over grade shift in GCSEs

A senior examiner has resigned in protest at the shifting of grade boundaries in this year's GCSE exams which he has branded "morally repugnant".

Stephen McKenzie, who has been a GCSE English moderator with the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA) exam board for 16 years, said in his resignation letter he believed the handling of the affair, where the grade boundaries were increased for a C and above, had been "disingenuous" to schools and students.

He said: "I could not go on working for them. To be frank, AQA English has fallen apart."

In his letter, Mr McKenzie, who is vice-principal of Morley Academy near Leeds, quotes emails from a senior English assessor at AQA who states that the changes to grade boundaries between January and June did "massive damage" and "instantly hit the most vulnerable" pupils by raising the grade boundary in the lower-tier English exam paper, where pupils can only aspire to a C grade pass, by 10 marks.

His decision comes as an alliance of pupils, schools and local authorities have given exam boards and exams regulator Ofqual a week's breathing space to respond to their threat to seek a judicial review of the affair.

Initially Ofqual and exam boards Edexcel and AQA had been given until Thursday to respond to the threat, but the deadline has been extended to next Thursday.

Leaders of the Association of School and College Leaders, which represents secondary school heads, have estimated up to 65,000 pupils could have lost out on C grade passes as a result of the shift in the boundary.