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Inquiry launched into GCSE grades
AN urgent investigation has been launched into GCSE gradings following claims that thousands of students – including hundreds in the North-East – have been treated unfairly.
Exams regulator Ofqual is to ask questions about how grade boundaries were set in English exam units this year.
The review comes amid threats of legal action from teachers and local authorities.
St Aidan’s Academy, in Darlington, has found itself at the centre of the row following the publication of GCSE results on Thursday.
Assistant principal Stephanie Francom said the goalposts had been moved, with some pupils predicted grade C passes instead left with Ds.
In a letter to the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), Ofqual chief regulator Glenys Stacey said: “We recognise concerns among students, parents and teachers about this year’s GCSE English results.
“We will look closely at how the results were arrived at.
We will do this quickly, but thoroughly, so confidence is maintained in our examinations system.”
Ms Stacey said she expected Ofqual to gather evidence before meeting awarding bodies to discuss its findings.
In an open letter to Education Secretary Michael Gove, the NAHT suggested grade boundaries in English had been significantly altered, during the previous academic year, in response to fears the pass rate would rise again.
The Department for Education (DfE) has welcomed the investigation, while Darlington MP Jenny Chapman said as many as 50 young people were affected in the town.
She has also written to Mr Gove, asking to see copies of correspondence between the DfE and examination body AQA.
Mrs Chapman said last night: “I cannot imagine what these young people must be feeling. This could have a seriously damaging effect on their prospects.
“We do not know how this has come about, or what is going to be done to rectify it, but it needs to happen quickly.”
Mr Gove, who has vowed to curb so-called grade inflation, has rejected suggestions that there had been political interference in GCSE results.
He said any changes in grades were the result of independent decisions, made by exam boards, free from political pressure.
He said the reason some pupils have had poorer results than expected was partly down to a change in the system, which meant exams had been split into units and modules this year.
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