AN ANGRY headteacher has branded exam boards’ decisions to raise grade boundaries for this summer’s GCSE English papers as “unfair and disgusting.”
Julie Craig at King’s School in Pontefract said almost 50 pupils expected to get a C grade fell short of the mark as a result of the higher boundaries set by exam board AQA this summer.
A national outcry was sparked when it was revealed that exam boards across the country had raised the boundaries in the middle of the academic year.
Mrs Craig says this has meant pupils who took the exam in summer and didn’t achieve the crucial C grade needed for colleges and employment, would have if their papers had been marked in January.
Mrs Craig said: “It’s disgusting and unfair, I hear the powers that be banging on about maintaining standards, but this is about raising the bar not maintaining it.
“If they are still allowed to do A levels by the colleges, they will still have to re-sit English, extra stress while getting used to not only the jump from GCSE to A level but also a whole new institution and teachers.
“Our experienced English teachers were confidently expecting 77 to 80 per cent to achieve a C or over based on exam results, and their assessments of the other coursework type elements of the overall grade.
“There were 49 of our students who should have achieved a C grade, but did not.
“I have moved from disbelief to shock to pure anger at those responsible, because it certainly isn’t the students or the staff.
“We should have been celebrating our students equalling or even improving on last year’s record breaking results, but the excellent performances of others have been overshadowed by the exam boards’ decision.”
Mrs Craig added 94 per cent of the Mill Hill Lane school students achieved five or more A*-C grades, but only 55 per cent achieved it including English and maths, compared to last year’s 74 per cent.
The exams regulator Ofqual is looking into the nationwide concerns over the marking of English GCSEs with an initial report expected to be published on Friday.
Organisations including local authorities, the Association of School and College Leaders and trade unions across the country are reportedly considering legal action.
Elaine McHale, Wakefield Council’s corporate director for family services, said: “If we were to take any action it would be in conjunction with the schools affected, other local authorities and the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, which is already raising the profile of this issue nationally.”
A press release on the AQA website said: “Our principal moderators’ judgement was that the individual grade boundaries for the summer needed to either stay the same, or be increased. Our boundaries therefore changed by between 0 and three marks in order to maintain national standards.”
l For a full GCSE results round-up see pages 24 to 27.