Head disappointed by exam probe outcome

Thursday 14 February 2013 Updated: 18/02 13:01

A FAILED legal challenge over the grading of last summer’s GCSE English papers could have long term ramifications for the thousands of students who were affected.

That was the stark warning from Christopher Whitehead Language College headteacher Neil Morris after Wednesday’s High Court decision.

An alliance of pupils, teachers, schools and councils from across the country had challenged the grading of English papers which left thousands of students who were predicted a C grade with a D.

The alliance accused exam boards and regulator Ofqual of unfairly pushing up grade boundaries so students who sat the exam earlier in January achieved higher grades than those taking it in June.

Lord Justice Elias accepted the January students had been treated “more generously”.

But his judgement added: “I am satisfied it was indeed the structure of the qualification itself which is the source of such unfairness as has been demonstrated in this case, and not any unlawful action by either Ofqual or the AOs (awarding bodies).”

It is estimated 10,000 students were affected by the shift in grade boundaries, including hundreds of young people in Worcestershire. Mr Morris said the court’s judgement was a disappointing end to a dreadful fiasco.

“I think the real sadness is 10,000 students missed out and got the wrong grade in English,” he said.

“That is locking up problems for the next ten to 15 years because those young people will be going for jobs, applying to university and so on without a fair grade. It is a real injustice because the students know they got the mark they should have done but they didn’t get the grade. Yet some of their friends did because they sat it in January.”

Mr Morris said 22 students had definitely been affected at his school but believed the overall number could be closer to 50.

“Some schools were really hammered a lot worse than us and it’s completely unjust. It will have long-term ramifications,” he added.

Ofqual chief regulator Glenys Stacey welcomed the court judgement.

“We know some students and schools will be disappointed with this. We understand that. But it’s our job to secure standards,” she added.

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