GCSE exam fiasco could recur next year, say heads


The GCSE English exams fiasco which led to thousands of pupils failing to get C grade passes this summer could well be repeated next year, headteachers will warn today.

Leaders of the Association of School and College Leaders said there were "strong grounds to be fearful" that the marking crisis could spread to other subjects. Exams regulator Ofqual has so far failed to get to the bottom of what happened.

Evidence submitted by ASCL to Graham Stuart, Conservative chairman of the Commons Select Committee on Education, said that 750 secondary schools – around one in four – had seen a 10 percentage point drop in pupils obtaining a C grade pass. In 600 schools, the drop was as high as 15 per cent. A slightly smaller number saw substantial rises in their C grade pass rate.

Ofqual is still investigating why there should be such widespread discrepancies in schools – and is expected to cover this issue in its final report on the summer controversy which is to be published "as soon as possible".

Headteachers, who are taking legal action against Ofqual and two exam boards (the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance and Edexcel), are angry that grade boundaries for those sitting the exam in June were changed at the last moment. They will seek a judicial review in the High Court next week of the decision to refuse to re-grade the exams.

More that 45,000 pupils are due to resit the English exam next month for free as part of a deal brokered by Ofqual.

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the ASCL, said: "As the weeks pass, the impact on the lives of those students becomes more and more difficult to reverse."